During the last several years that we have been on our “Real Food” journey, we have made dozens of changes – from the things we eat to how we prepare our food. It is SO easy to get overwhelmed once you start making changes! Have you found that to be true as well? That’s why I found it best to take baby steps in the changes you make. Not only will it feel less overwhelming, but it will also help those changes stick rather than just become a fad. Know what I mean?
One of the changes I started making early on was to make my own homemade Chicken Broth. It is not only SUPER nutritious, but also ends up being very frugal.
Before I show you how to make great chicken broth (and believe me, it is incredibly easy!), let me try to convince you how much healthier it is. First of all, if you are still using ANY sort of bouillon cubes, please stop! Here is the ingredient list from one of the leading brands:
Salt, Sugar, Mechanically Separated Cooked Ground Chicken Meat, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten, Corn Maltodextrin, Onion Powder, Chicken Fat, Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten Protein, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Water, Garlic Powder, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Dextrose, Cooked Chicken Powder, Natural Chicken Flavor, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Calcium Silicate, Gelatin, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Turmeric, Corn Syrup Solids, Spice, Modified Corn Starch, Silicon Dioxide, Diacetyl (Flavor), Artificial Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Alpha Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Corn Oil, Bha (Preservative), Propyl Gallate, Citric Acid, Bht (Preservative).
Ick! You’ll see the 5th ingredient is Monosodium Glutamate, also know as MSG. MSG is nasty, nasty stuff. You can read more about that over at the Kelly the Kitchen Kop site where she has some info on “MSG Dangers”.
So, enter a SUPER healthy and nutritious option – homemade chicken broth/stock. I’m sure you all have heard that chicken soup can heal you from a cold/sickness, right? BUT, the key is that it to be homemade soup – soup made from a bone broth. The reason is that this kind of broth actually contains a whole bunch of minerals and vitamins in the form our body can best absorb. It becomes a boost to our immune system in that way. To save you from my babbling, I highly suggest you go on over to an article written by Sally Fallon called “Broth is Beautiful”. It is very informative in regards to the history and nutritional benefits of homemade broth/stock.
To get the best possible results I definitely recommend using a whole, pastured, organic chicken. I get mine from Grassfields Cheese/Farm. This chicken is SOOOOOO delicious – I put a whole, thawed chicken in my crockpot for about 6-8 hrs on low. I put maybe a cup or two of water and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. If I want to get really wild, I throw in a few halved garlic cloves and some rosemary. Even with ONLY salt and pepper, this chicken is sooooooo good. I promise you that you will notice a difference in how good it tastes compared to whatever chicken you are eating now (unless you are already eating it from a local, organic, pastured farm!)
After I cook my chicken, I take all the meat off of the bones. This chicken is usually enough for 3 meals’ worth. I usually put in fridge for a few days, or if we aren’t going to use it right away I put in a Ziploc bag or container and freeze it for later use. We ate a bunch of it for dinner last night and this is what was left over after eating 1/3 of it:
Then, I throw all the bones and pieces in my crockpot. I LOVE this crockpot by the way – it’s the Cuisinart PSC-650 Stainless Steel Programable Slow Cooker:
Then, I add:
1 onion, quartered
several halved cloves of garlic
celery (if I have some)
carrots (if I have some)
some thyme, rosemary or parsley (or a combo of them)
about 1/4 cup vinegar (I usually use this apple cider vinegar)
filtered water until it gets almost to the top
***The vinegar is an important addition as it actually helps PULL OUT additional minerals/vitamins from the chicken bones! Ideally, you would let the mixture sit in the vinegar for about and hour before turning on your crockpot as it will help pull out even more minerals.***
In this picture I had some extra turnips and so I added those. You really can use whatever you have on hand:
I then put on low for about 12-24 hours. My house smells SO good when this is cooking. Once it is done and the broth has cooled, I simply strain the broth into different sized containers (left over 32oz yogurt containers work really well!) and freeze them for later use. This makes it SUPER easy to use chicken stock for homemade soups, in place of water for cooking rice/couscous/quinoa, etc.
You really cannot ruin something like chicken broth, I promise! **BUT, beware. This kind of chicken broth will “gel” when it is cooled and placed in fridge. IT IS OKAY!!! It actually means it is super-healthy for your gut (which you learned about if you read the whole “Broth is Beautiful” article above). It will re-liquify once you heat it up. With all of the health benefits of chicken stock, I really believe it is one of the EASIEST but most nutritionally-beneficial changes you can start making for your family right now!