Bone Broth: The Best Thing Ever

I am a huge fan of finding natural ways to maintain and heal my body, especially ones that don’t require half my salary.

Anyone else feel me on this?

In a world full of medications and expensive treatments, I like to focus on preventative measures rather than running my body into the ground and then looking for a drug to fix what might have been avoided altogether. While my lifestyle choices may not always be “mainstream”, they are certainly all done with this goal in mind. I am not perfect by any means, but this is extremely important to me and something I strive to help others find for themselves as well.

When I started making bone broth, I knew it was about to change my whole game. And it seriously has. If you’re sitting there wondering why or how, please, read on, because it turns out all of our grandmas and their magic chicken soups were definitely onto something…

My Top 4 Reasons Why Bone Broth Is the Best Thing Since… Ever.

  1. Makes your joints feel as smooth as eggs.
    Yep, that was my Dave Chappelle reference for the day. If you didn’t get it, don’t worry about it.
    Anywho…
    The proper function of our joints depends greatly on something called collagen: the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, ligaments, tendons and on the end of our bones. Bone broth contains glucosamine, which stimulates certain cells to lay down more collagen in the joints, therefore eliminating pain, reducing inflammation, and providing better joint lubrication.
    Hell yeah. All good things.
    “But couldn’t you just buy a glucosamine supplement?” Sure. But the glucosamine found in bone broth is digestion resistant which means we absorb it in its intact form, which is always better than supplementing.
    Also, if you want healthier hair and nails and smoother, firmer skin, collagen is going to be your new best friend.
    Basically, bone broth makes you look and feel super sexy.
  2. Repairs the gut lining and promotes gastrointestinal health.
    Let’s be honest, most of you reading this right now are experiencing some sort of gut issue: gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, food allergies or sensitivities, or maybe even an autoimmune disease.
    The best nutrient to solve these problems is gelatin, which is the cooked, gelatinous  form of collagen extracted from the bones. It’s the stuff that makes the bone broth wiggle like jello when refrigerated.
    Gastrointestinal health is incredibly important, and often overlooked. Your gut lining is meant to be slightly permeable in order for nutrients to pass through; however, the stress of modern society (technology, traffic, long work hours, stupid people, etc) creates excessive permeability, causing larger food particles to pass through the lining and wreak havoc in your body. The particles are attacked by your immune system and flagged as a danger, creating things like allergic reactions and food sensitivities.
    Read: your body starts to fight itself.
    When your body is in attack mode, it causes inflammation. This chronic inflammation is what causes damage to things like your metabolism, thyroid, digestion… not good.
    So think of your gut like a window screen; it’s meant to let air through and keep bugs out. When the gut is damaged, that’s like punching holes in the screen. Not exactly effective anymore. Bone broth helps repair the screen again.
  3. Provides amino acids.
    Bone broth is a great source of certain amino acids that are difficult to get from diet alone. You may not recognize all of these names, but pay attention to what they do for you:
    Proline – Helps with skin elasticity and smoothness, and prevents arteries from stiffening.
    Glycine – Used for blood sugar regulation as well as muscle growth/repair by regulating creatine and Human Growth Hormone secretions.
    Glutamine – Removes waste (like ammonia) from the body, synthesizes proteins (the muscle building process), and helps repair the gut lining.
  4. Helps get toxins out of the body.
    Did you know your liver is the detox mecca? This vital organ works 24/7 as a toxin filtration system, but stress and poor lifestyle choices will seriously hinder your liver from being able to effectively do its job. It’s ability to detoxify is reliant on the amino acid glycine. Hmm, does this word sound familiar (see reason #3)?

Pretty sweet, right?

You can buy pre-made bone broth at most natural food stores, but I love making my own because it’s super easy and much more cost efficient. If you think this is gross, buck up, because the benefits are absolutely worth it.

Here’s how I do it!

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Yummy, right?

Whenever I cook meat with bones in it (whole chickens, pork chops, etc) I always save the bones in the freezer. Things like necks and feet are GREAT for bone broth because they have so much cartilage.

For this particular batch I used bones from two chickens, turkey backs and necks, and one pigs foot. I’ve also used pork bones and chicken feet in the past, it all depends on what I’ve cooked, and some things (like the feet) I pick up at the farmers market or Whole Foods or Sprouts.

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Chicken and Turkey Bones with Pigs Foot

 

After I put all the bones in the crock pot, I pour chicken stock over everything. You can use store-bought chicken, vegetable or beef stock, just add some chopped onion and carrots to the pot as well.

Whenever I cook whole chickens, I always save the leftover stock (liquid and veggies) and freeze it. I can use it later as a soup base, or for making bone broth. The stock has all sorts of herbs and vegetables in it from when I cooked the chicken, which adds to the rich flavor of the broth.

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Bones and Stock

Next, fill the crock pot with water until it just covers the bones.
Set the pot on low and let cook for 18-22 hours.
Which basically means 20 hours.
But I have to leave a margin for liability purposes.
Kidding.

After 20-ish hours, it will smell amazing and look something like this:

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Strain all the bones through a large strainer, then throw them out. You’ll be left with just the liquid in the bowl.

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Now pour the remaining contents of the crock pot over a wire strainer. This will catch any remaining bone or cartilage particles.

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And now you are left with a rich, nutrient dense, dark-colored broth!

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Keep broth in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Once it gets cold, you will see the gelatin start to form and it will take on a jello-like consistency.

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Ways to use your super awesome broth:

  • Heat and drink plain out of a mug.
  • Use a spoonful of broth to sauté veggies or meat in on the stove.
  • Make a hearty soup with the broth as the base.

Enjoy!

Creamy Cashew Hazelnut Bars

Simple can be fantastic. Yes, a lot of things I make require some special ingredients or certain proteins in order to get just the right taste and consistency, but these? These decadent bars have less than six ingredients and are so simple to prepare.

The bottom layer is filled with two main ingredients—cashews and coconut—which provide these treats with antioxidants, essential minerals and plenty of vitamins. The healthy monounsaturated fat in the cashews is similar to that found in olive oil, and much of the coconut fat comes in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are transported to the liver and used as energy in the body. How’s THAT for a healthy dessert?

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For the top layer I used one of my favorites: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. This stuff is basically Nutella, except WAY BETTER because it is made with REAL ingredients like nuts, organic sugar, sea salt, vanilla… you know, things that happen to be found in nature. Then I drizzled chocolate over each bar because quite frankly I couldn’t see a reason not to.

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Completely free of gluten, soy and dairy plus being almost Paleo… these bars are proof that healthy doesn’t have to mean boring or gross!

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Note: FiberYum can be substituted for another sticky syrup like honey, maple syrup or agave… just know that it will change the macros.

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‘Merica Protein Waffles

Apparently my latest sprinkle obsession is contagious, because I have gotten so many snaps and texts from people who have been adding them to their waffles and pancakes these last few days… YAS! I think it’s amazing. Sprinkle happiness everywhere! All the pun intended!

Plus I’m still pretty convinced that sprinkles have no macros or calories, soooo LOAD ‘EM UP, FAM, LOAD ‘EM UP.

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I realize I am posting this AFTER most people have had breakfast, but for those of you slightly hung over from Memorial Day weekend festivities, here’s an idea that will instantly make your day better. Because sprinkles.

I think my favorite part about these is that they are gluten-free AND super easy to make AND there are only 6 carbs per waffle! Yes, that even includes the chocolate. But not the sprinkles… because we already decided those don’t have calories, remember?

Side note: you can absolutely use your own waffle recipe for these. I just can’t promise Grandma’s super-secret traditional mix is as macro-friendly as mine…

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Birthday Cake Protein Waffles

Everything in moderation. Except for sprinkles. You can never have too many sprinkles.

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I used my base waffle recipe for this stack, added vanilla extract for extra flavor, and then, of course, sprinkles, because you cannoy have birthday-themed anything without them.

The YouFreshNaturals Birthday Cake Coco-Nut Butter was the perfect “glaze” on the top layer. This was a post-training meal for me so I also added half of a Lenny & Larry’s cookie for extra carbs and calories to refuel.

Speaking of carbs and calories, if you’re reducing either of those you can easily omit the nut butter and cookie and this stack becomes 215 calories and only 11g of carbs! However, you really won’t get the full celebration-in-your-mouth effect without all that extra birthday fun on top. Trust me on this one.

If you don’t follow me on Snapchat yet, you should (“alphakilo7″…go ahead…I’ll wait…), because I always snap the food on there first before I dress it up and try to use proper grammar and add it to this blog.


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Note: for a more “traditional” waffle consistency, I recommend using a whole egg instead of just the whites. I am sensitive to the yolks, which is why I usually use just the whites. 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Brownies

One day I will post something that has nothing to do with peanut butter or chocolate…

[in best Viggo Mortensen voice] “…BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY.”

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Three things you should know:

1) These things are the most fudge-y, chocolate-y, peanut butter-y brownie I have ever made.

2) I purposely divided the pan into 9 HUGE servings instead of the typical 12 you find in most recipes. Because I don’t believe in eating small brownies. Ever.

3) On top of all that, they are also gluten free! Okay well the brownie is, can’t speak for the P28 on top, but that’s okay, we aren’t perfect here. If you don’t tolerate gluten or dairy you can easily omit the P28 Caramel Turtle spread and substitute with another favorite nut butter. Whew. Problem solved.

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Triple Layer Protein Cookie Dough Cups

Growing up, my comfort food was cereal. It was my breakfast 99% of the time and also solved virtually every problem in life. When I was five and the mean boy stole my crayons or when I was sixteen and he broke my heart, a bowl or two or five of milk and cereal would instantly make me happy.
My two favorites were Cinnamon Life and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (sensing theme here?). I could put away an entire box if my Mom allowed. Which she didn’t. But figuring out how to do life was hard, and cereal always helped.

While my kids and I usually enjoy a fairly simple, whole food diet, there are certain staples from my childhood that I get for them on occasion; one of those being a fun cereal of their choice.
I love the Mom’s Best Brand cereals because they have lots of popular flavors made without all the yuck like preservatives, food dyes, chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. They’re also not expensive; I usually find them on sale for $2-3 a box.
If you are looking for a cleaner alternative to the cereal game, I highly recommend giving this brand a try!

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This time around, we had Toasted Cinnamon Squares, and I wanted to make something fun that reminded me of being a kid again…  with protein, though, because gains.

With a dark chocolate base, chewy protein cookie dough center, crunchy cinnamon toast crust all stacked and drizzled in a high-protein snickerdoodle glaze, it’s an absolutely fantastic little bomb of yum.

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Peanut Butter Banana Protein Waffles

If you’ve followed me on social media for more than the last, let’s say, 15 minutes, you are likely aware that I am obsessed with waffles. Breakfast, lunch, post-training, dinner, dessert… They’re the most versatile food in my dietary arsenal, one of my obvious favorites, and let’s be honest, have you ever looked at a plate full of these dripping in syrup and toppings and just thought, “…nah.”?

That’s what I thought.

Anyway. Versatile.
I make different types based on what time of day I’m eating them. For instance, if I have them for breakfast I will make them higher in fat (use a whole egg in the mix and top with some sort of fun peanut/almond/cashew butter) to keep me full while I work all morning.
If they are a post-training refuel then I will make them low fat (using egg whites) and higher carb (add bananas, granola, chocolate, cookies, etc). Post-training is probably my favorite time to eat these because I either 1) just had my body and soul crushed, in which case waffles cheer me up, or 2) I had an awesome session, in which case I want to freakin celebrate–with food of course. Either way, these tasty pancakes with abs are always there for me, you know?

I can also make nearly-zero-carb “prep waffles” when I’m a week out from a meet and have to make weight. Not nearly as much culinary fun on those, but my point is I always find a way to make waffles happen in my life, regardless of whether I’m on a macro budget or not.

You see? Waffles. Every day. For every occasion. It’s the perfect food.

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Thanks to the fantastic humans at Better Body Foods, I was surprised with a huge tub of PBfit Powdered Peanut Butter, among other goodies, so I dedicate this first waffle post to them, and, of course, the love of all things peanut butter-related.

This recipe is an example of a variation I would eat post-training. Just one variation of, oh, about 500? I appreciate having choices.

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Note: for a more “traditional” waffle consistency, I recommend using a whole egg instead of just the whites. I am sensitive to the yolks, which is why I usually use just the whites.