Worry about what you are eating NOT what you should NOT be eating.

It seems every day you turn on the news, you are bombarded with a new food we should not eat. One day it is gluten, the other day it is carbs, and our physicians is telling us eat no saturated or trans fats. Then what are you supposed to eat? Dirt and leaves? Obviously I am being facetious, but this focus on using what not to eat to structure one’s diet is pervasive. This would not be a problem if it was helping people eat as well as possible to support their health and goals. However, structuring your diet this way is fundamentally flawed. The absence of junk/unhealthy food does not mean that what you are eating is going to nourish your body.

Do not get me wrong, I think it is absolutely important to make sure to limit your intake of junk food, but obsessively focusing on limiting junk food is NOT the way to ensure that you are eating a well balanced and healthy diet. Also, based on how our brains our wired the more you focus on what NOT to include the more you desire those foods. Therefore your more likely to binge and eat those “restricted” food after your initial burst of enthusiasm wears off. What you resists, persists.

So what is a more sustainable method to ensure that you are eating the correct foods at the correct time to best support your health and achieving your dreams? Focus on what and when you should eat certain foods. This is a much more powerful method because it instantly changes your mindset from one of “deprivation” to one of gratitude for all the good foods you CAN eat. In addition, if you focus on eating high quality foods, the amount of junk food  you eat will naturally decrease because you will tend to crave them less or not have space for them in your stomach if your nourishing yourself with high quality foods.

So what can you start including in your diet today that would help best support optimal function of your body? I am going to give you three simple ideas  that you can use in your life right now to help bolster your diet.

  1. Have 30 g of protein within in 30 minutes of waking – This is very important because the biochemistry of the body changes based on what time of day it is. This holds true for how your body assimilates nutrition. During sleep you are fasting, so to help your body shift from a catabolic state (breaking down) to an anabolic state (building up) you want to supply your body with a high quality protein sources right away. Also, right after a fasting period your body will much more readily absorb proteins and shuttle them towards muscle synthesis (which is great for athletes who want to build muscle). For those of you who are not morning people or do not like breakfast I would recommend having some Whey Protein powder first thing in the morning. The product that I use is BIOX Whey Isolate protein powders. It is a great product, but feel free to use whatever high quality whey protein powder you can find. However if you choose to go this path, one caveat is do not buy the cheap stuff. A lot of these companies will use very poor sources of protein which end up being very hard for your body to digest, if it can at all. This is main reason for the digestive discomfort people sometimes experience while consuming cheap powdered protein shakes.
  2. Have a fistful of green leafy vegetables on your plate for every meal – This one is self-explanatory. You know you should be eating more vegetables and that green leafy vegetables are jam packed with a plethora of nutrients and minerals. Also, they have a lot of fiber that helps makes us feel full and prevents us from overeating. Make this a habit and in a week or two you will notice a huge increase in your energy.
  3.  Have 1/2 – 1 cup of legumes for every meal (my favorites for getting lean are black beans and lentils)- The number one common mistake I myself made when first trying to change my diet and many others I have helped have made is NOT eating enough calories. All of the processed foods you may currently eat are super dense with calories. Whole foods are not nearly as calorically dense as processed foods. So most people just switch out Whole Clean foods with Junk food and end up eating the same proportions. This results in them NOT eating enough calories.  As a result they feel sluggish, irritable and always hungry. Therefore, they give up after a short time and go back to eating all the junk they ate before because they feel “worse” because of eating healthier food. It was NOT the food that caused those symptoms but the fact that were not eating enough food! The easiest way to get around this problem is consuming 1/2-1 cup of legumes for caloric load at every meal. An added bonus is that they also come jam packed with high quality source of protein and fiber.

So there you have it, focus on introducing these three new things to your diet and you will notice a HUGE difference in your energy levels and overall well being! I would love to hear back from you if this has helped or if you have any things that you include in your diet that could help bolster others’ diet as well.

Lastly, always feel free to reach out to me or make a comment below if you have any questions or concerns.

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Random Thoughts: How I found the Motivation to Eat Better (via Cooking)

The only thing I changed was my perspective:  As a human being, we only have so much food that our body can take in and digest over the course of a day.  I began to look at each meal as an opportunity to build myself for success and health.

The more I have learned, the more I realized what food could do for me.  Instead of looking at nutrition as mostly avoiding bad foods (subtraction), I started to see it as an additive process, where I could add the quality of my food up and do perform better than I ever had before, not only in athletics, but in life as well, due to increased energy, focus, etc.

Anyone who’s studied sports coaching or strength knows that efficiency is key.  A college basketball coach has a set amount of time that (s)he can spend with the team.  While having the time shoot around on their own for a third of an hour-and-a-half practice might have some benefit, there are a million other things that the team could be doing that would be a better use of that limited amount of time.  From watching college basketball teams practice, every drill has a specific purpose.  Master coaches even manipulate the rest periods between drills, the setup of the locker room, and other seemingly insignificant moments to promote team comradery – they know that every little moment can make the difference between winning and losing, between a pay raise and unemployment.  They aren’t always adding things to reap benefits, merely manipulating what is already there.  The same concept of efficiency applies to food.

As a human being, we only have so much food that our body can take in and digest over the course of a day.  It became a goal for me to pack as much value into that limited amount of food as possible.

If I go to Five Guys (which I love) and get a double burger and fries for lunch, I’m spending a full meal of that day on food that will sustain me, but is far less than optimal – just like the coach wasting all that practice time shooting around:

-Fries don’t have much in the way of vitamins and minerals after frying

-Same for the toppings on the burger (not fried, but the less fresh a veggie is, the less healthy it is for you, so I can only assume)

-The white bread bun is assimilated to your body in the same way a bowl of sugar would be (no nutritional value)

-The patties have good protein and B12 – although I could be getting that protein from a source that provides more (fish) I’ll say that this is the healthiest part of the meal

Let’s compare this to what I made for lunch today:

-Hardboiled eggs:  High in protein (build muscle), Good fats, like omega 3 DHA (for healthy skin, hair, growth, helps prevent heart disease), Lutein and Vitamin A (for the health of your eyes), Vitamin D (for the health of your bones) among other benefits

-Tomato:  Outstanding source of antioxidants (such as lycopene), strengthens body to lower risk of heart disease and cancer

-Avocado:  Has been shown to aid absorption of key antioxidants (such as lycopene^) and has anti-inflammatory effects, due to the particular type of fats that comprise the fruit, and also contains oleic acid, one of the ingredients that makes olive oil so dang good for you.  Also has been shown to strengthen the body to reduce symptoms of arthritis

-Kasha (Toasted Buckwheat):   Increases blood flow (great for both athletes and anyone who has to deal with cold) due to its rutin content, which strengthens capillaries and acts as an antioxidant, while its magnesium content relaxes those same blood vessels (further promoting increased circulation).

And if my efficiency rant didn’t sway you, let’s take a look at the price:  $4.39 burger and $2.49 fries at Five Guys, compared to $0.75 for 3 eggs, $0.50 for 1/2 avocado, ~$0.65 for a few cherry tomatoes, and something like $0.20 for the Kasha.  I’m getting way more from my meal that cost between $2-3 than I could have for the exorbitant price of $6.88+tax.

HOW TO BUILD BULLETPROOF BONES, PARTS III & IV: Where to get what you need, and how to cook it

As a basketball player and high jumper, I racked up 10 stress fractures over the course of 8 years.  Upon hearing this, acquaintances often ask, “oh, did you not get enough calcium?”  Actually, I did.  Doctors checked my blood, my calcium levels were normal.  So were my vitamin D levels.  I always came back slowly from these injuries as well – they never seemed to heal in the 4-6 week timetable my doctors would allot, even in college with the help of athletic trainers and physical therapists.  I would always ask the doctors, what am I doing wrong?  They could never answer.  So I eventually did my own research, and, as it turns out, I was doing quite a bit wrong.  This will be a four part series focusing on the role that diet has on bone strength and development:

Part I:  The Milk Myth

Part II:  What Matters Most – How Calcium is Absorbed

Part III:  Where to get the required minerals to maximize calcium absorption (listed in Part II) – Foods, Herbs & Supplements

Part IV:  The Bone Builder’s Cookbook – Several Easy Recipes

Part III:

If you read parts I & II of my “Bulletproof Bones” series, you’ll notice that I talked a lot about the minerals involved in getting calcium into your bones (not your bloodstream) and keeping it there.  The following are the best sources of bone-building magnesium and other minerals.  #1 is at the top, the rest are in descending order:

#1:  Cracked Bone Soup.  I did a post on this a week ago where you can read up on the bone and joint building benefits of this bone soup.  Is commonly made from chicken, beef, or fish.  Follows the ancient healing principle of “like heals like” – the animal has concentrated bone building vitamins and minerals in their bones.  Humans need the same nutrients, so we benefit greatly from this food.

#2:  Pumpkin Seeds.  Power-packed with magnesium, with around half of your daily requirement in just a quarter cup serving.  Also rich source of zinc and antioxidants.

#3:  Beans.  Lentils, Soy, mung, adzuki, black, and lima beans are all great sources of magnesium, as well as protein and other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

#4:  Whole Grains.  Especially quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, wild rice, barley, millet, oats, rye and wheat (in descending order of magnesium content, from whfoods.com).

#5:  Green Vegetables.  Chlorophyll makes plants green, and at the center of the chlorophyll molecule is magnesium, making these guys a great source as well.

Note:  Much ado has been made in health circles about the phytic acid content of beans and whole grains, with some (usually paleo…) people advocating that we leave them completely out of our diet for that reason.  Phytic acid is one of the ways a plant avoids being eaten – it is a toxin whose intent is to render the plant inedible, by binding to vital nutrients and rendering them unusable by whatever animal were to try and eat them.  However, research has shown that the body produces its own chemicals to break down phytic acid.  I personally soak grains the night before I use them (just put ’em in a mason jar and let ’em sit on the counter covered in water, then drain the water and put it in the fridge, preferably use it within a few days – soaking is as simple as it sounds) because it breaks down phytic acid to a negligible amount by beginning the sprouting process (during which the plant’s nutrients are most bio-available).  I first read about soaking grains in Paul Pitchford’s “Healing with Whole Foods,” a book on western and eastern nutrition.  Since so much of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s nutritional recommendations are focused on getting the most nutrients possible while wasting as little of the body’s energy as one can to assimilate those nutrients, I feel that soaking is worthwhile.  I usually place a lot of faith in traditional wisdom, due to its strong track record (our survival).  I feel I get less of a dip in energy (less food coma) immediately after I eat soaked grains (vs. non-soaked).  Could be placebo though…You decide.  As for beans, soaking DEFINITELY makes a difference by reducing the content of particular sugars that upset your stomach.    

Part IV:

Minimal Work Recipes

There are more complex recipes out there, but if you’re just starting with cooking, on a budget, or lacking a full kitchen’s worth of ingredients, then these will do just fine.

Chicken Broth/Stock

Dahl (Lentil Curry):  bring 3-4 cups water to a boil.  Add 1 cup soaked lentils.  Simmer until soft, then add a tablespoon of curry powder OR turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne and coriander (all powerful anti-inflammatories, especially turmeric), add salt to taste, and cook 5-10 more minutes.

Gretchka (made with Kasha, which is simply toasted buckwheat):  boil 3 cups water, add 1 cup Kasha and salt to taste, simmer for ~20 minutes, add a sliver of butter and parsley if desired, cook another 5-10 minutes (until the water is soaked into the buckwheat – 1 cup of buckwheat will look alarmingly bigger after cooking!)  Millet can be made this way as well (though I don’t often include butter with millet, as it is creamy in texture as is).  Wild rice and brown rice are similar as well, although wild rice will take more like 45 minutes.  I will often sauté a vegetable in olive oil or butter on the pan, then add water to boil, then add grains – adds veggies to the meal, and flavors the grain!  I like mushrooms with buckwheat, onions with lentils or rice, broccoli with millet – this addition is something worth experimenting with.

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From Bazaar on Cambridge St. in Allston, MA, a primarily Russian grocer – Millet is $2.89, Barley $1.89, and Kasha $2.79 for 22 servings – that’s less than 13 cents per serving for a food nutritious enough to be a staple of one’s diet – they said eating healthy was expensive, did they?

Finally, to bring it all together I have a recipe a client gave me last week – this one is a little more involved, but since it uses a crockpot/slow cooker it is super easy.

(Slow Cooked) Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Soup

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts*

1 cup quinoa (soaked)

2-3 sweet potatoes, depending on their size

1 can black beans (rinsed) OR equivalent of a can (~1 pound) dried black beans soaked and then cooked somewhat (boil, 20-30 minutes simmer)

2 big tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced garlic

5 cups chicken broth – since I make my own broth, I’ll often cut it with water, i.e. 3 cups broth, 2 cups water – my broth is much more flavorful than store bought broth

Chili Seasoning – 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper – you can use this ratio to make a bunch of chili seasoning for use in other dishes, storing for up to six months

Instructions:

Pour in liquid – broth or combo broth/water

Add in chicken, quinoa, rinsed beans

Peel sweet potatoes (or not, if you’re as lazy as I am) cut into cubes and add to pot

Dice tomatoes and garlic and add to pot

Add chili seasoning to pot

Place on high for 3-5 hours or low for 5-8 (I do high for 4.5 hrs)

Use two forks to shred chicken, stir & serve

*Note:  I often skip the chicken if I’m cooking for myself, replacing it with another pound of black beans or adzuki beans – I don’t eat meat more than a few meals a week.  Why I do this will be discussed in future posts.

Bon appetit!

How to Build Bulletproof Bones, Parts I & II: The Milk Myth, and What Really Matters for Calcium Absorbtion

Note:  You can see the summary from this article at the bottom of the post.

As a basketball player and high jumper, I racked up 10 stress fractures over the course of 8 years.  Upon hearing this, acquaintances often ask, “oh, did you not get enough calcium?”  Actually, I did.  Doctors checked my blood, my calcium levels were normal.  So were my vitamin D levels.  I always came back slowly from these injuries as well – they never seemed to heal in the 4-6 week timetable my doctors would allot, even in college with the help of athletic trainers and physical therapists.  I would always ask the doctors, what am I doing wrong?  They could never answer.  So I eventually did my own research, and, as it turns out, I was doing quite a bit wrong.  This will be a four part series focusing on the role that diet has on bone strength and development:

Part I:  The Milk Myth

Part II:  What Matters Most – How Calcium is Absorbed

Part III:  Where to get the required minerals to maximize calcium absorbtion (listed in Part II) – Foods, Herbs & Supplements

Part IV:  The Bone Builder’s Cookbook – Several Easy Recipes

Part I:  The Milk (and Supplement) Mythmcgwire-milk4501

Drink enough milk, they say.  It’ll give you strong bones, they say.  Lower rates of milk drinking are often cited as a reason behind the current epidemic of osteoporotic injuries (injuries from weak/brittle bones) in America.  The International Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that “around 40% of US white women and 13% of US white men aged 50 years will experience at least one clinically apparent fragility fracture in their lifetime.”  Some doctors believe that this problem is because of a lack of calcium in the diet.  But is this true?

If we were to look at the countries with the highest per capita dairy consumption, we’d also see the strongest bones, with all the calcium that dairy consumption provides, right?  Wrong.  Scandinavia is leading the way in dairy consumption, and guess who has the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world?  I’m not quick to say that dairy consumption causes bones to weaken (although that’s a possibility: cheese contains high amounts of phosphoric acid, the same substance that is believed to be why colas (not all sodas) have been scientifically proven to cause bone loss).  The lack of sun must also be involved in the Scandinavian epidemic, as vitamin D “turns on” calcium absorption.

If dairy doesn’t work, what about supplements?  If just getting enough calcium doesn’t work, vitamin D will help, right?

The US Preventative Services Task Force actually recommends not taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, since the evidence does not clearly show that they have any effect on fractures in women.  There are actually concerns about the safety of calcium supplements, as some studies have shown an increased risk of heart disease for those taking the supplements.  Sunlight and a healthy diet are highly correlated with regular vitamin D levels, which are highly correlated with strong and healthy bones, and supplements of vitamin D have been shown to effectively raise levels in the blood in many cases.  However, in my case, and in the cases of at least three fellow stress fracture-plagued athletes I met through my career, our vitamin D and calcium levels were tested and came back normal, and we still kept breaking bones.  Is it possible that we had normal calcium and vitamin D in our blood and they were still not doing the jobs that they were supposed to do?

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Part II:  What Matters Most – How Calcium is Absorbed

Magnesium & Vitamin D

WebMD.com says that “magnesium is a mineral that is present in relatively large amounts in the body.  Researchers estimate that the average person’s body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, and about half of that is in the bones. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly.”  More than 300 reactions, including those in which vitamin D is involved.  Actually, magnesium turns out to be a cofactor in every interaction requiring vitamin D.  Carolyn Dean, MD says that “When you take high doses of Vitamin D and if you are already low in magnesium, the increased amount of metabolic work drains magnesium from its muscle storage sites.  That’s probably why muscles are the first to suffer magnesium deficiency symptoms — twitching, leg cramps, restless legs and charlie horses.  Angina and even heart attacks affecting the heart muscle are all magnesium deficiency symptoms.”  This is very important for athletes that play sports outside – if you use magnesium to metabolize vitamin D, and you get a lot of vitamin D (from the sun) then you must make sure that you are getting enough magnesium.  One reason for the lack of attention that magnesium gets by the average doctor may be because it is very difficult to test for.

Calcium, Magnesium & Calcitonin

Magnesium stimulates the release of the hormone calcitonin.  Calcitonin is produced by the thyroid, and is a regulator of calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood.  It actually prevents the release of calcium into the bloodstream.  When the message reaches the thyroid that there is a large amount of calcium in the blood, the thyroid releases calcitonin, which both enhances the uptake of calcium and phosphorous by the bone AND slows the activity of osteoclasts (cells that recycle bone).  If you want stronger bones, you want less osteoclast activity, as the osteoclasts break down bone to release their mineral content (osteoblasts, on the other hand, are the cells that build bones).

Lastly, studies have shown that even a small amount of missing magnesium from the body can interfere with the quality of your sleep  and sleep is required to rebuild the bones and all of the tissues of the body.  Another interesting fact is that magnesium is required for serotonin production.  Low serotonin can cause migraine headaches and is associated with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

In Summary…

-Getting enough calcium is important, but it isn’t everything.  Ever been told drinking milk will build strong bones?  Countries that eat the most dairy products, per capita, have the weakest bones.  What matters is how much calcium actually gets absorbed by your bones.

-Phosphoric acid (in colas) has been proven to weaken bones.  Sorry, no more Pepsi/Coca Cola if you’re going to be an athlete person.

-Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption, but cannot be absorbed if it there is not an adequate amount of magnesium in the body.  Due to the Standard American Diet (processed foods lose much, if not all, of their mineral content), magnesium is often a missing link for American athletes.

                -If you play sports outdoors or consume a lot of vitamin D in food or supplement form, you must be sure that you are getting enough magnesium.  Your body’s demand for it is greater.

-Magnesium also is involved in the release of the hormone calcitonin, which is required to keep calcium in the bones (where you want it) instead of the bloodstream and soft tissues (which can lead to calcification of the arteries and arthritis, among other things).

-Magnesium deficiency is hard to test BUT some signs that you may not be getting enough are leg cramps and charlie horses.

-Further, magnesium can help to improve your mood, relax your muscles and your mind (as serotonin production is dependent on magnesium), as well as helping you to sleep better by relaxing the central nervous system.

Next Monday we will look at both the sources of bone building substances in the food world and also common inhibitors of those substances.  In addition, we will look at some popular (and lesser known) herbs and supplements, their function in building super-strong bones, and some of their pros and cons.

UPDATE:  Further research has shown that the alkalinity/acidity of the blood (highly influenced by diet) also has a huge impact on the health of bones and soft tissues.  Later this October a specific post will summarize this rather complex topic.

“A Good Broth Can Raise The Dead”

-South American Proverb

“Without it, nothing can be done” – Auguste Escoffier, French Chef

Every traditional culture on earth includes some sort of soup or broth made with the bones of an animal.  The French use it as a foundation for many sauces.  Certain tribes of Native Americans would give the children bones to suck the marrow out, as did the people in some parts of Italy – I know my Dad did growing up!  In Scotland 50 years ago people would “pass the bone” (no, not that kind), meaning that they would pass a bone from house to house until you couldn’t make any more broth from it.  “Jewish Penicillin” is a soup that contains the bones of the chicken.  Even in America, home-made chicken noodle soup was once considered the go-to healing meal for anyone with a cold or flu – unfortunately, processed, store bought soup isn’t curing anyone, and many of us aren’t getting any of the benefits that this superfood has to offer.

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Why is this such an important dietary staple?

Let’s look at what’s in soups containing bones (broken, preferably, to release marrow):

Glycosaminoglycans  ever heard of the supplement glucosamine?  Glucosamine is one molecule that has is used as a supplement to treat arthritis in recent years, in some cases helping to regrow cartilage.  Glucosamine is one subset of the collagen-building molecules glycosaminoglycans.  These molecules actually survive digestion and go straight to the joints, repairing the tissues around them – tendons, ligaments, and the ends of bones (all made of collagen).  While scientists do not currently undersand how they know where they need to go, our ancestors have understood this for thousands of years, as it has been a staple in so many cultures for so long.  Additionally, these molecules aid the building and rebuilding of bone, hair, skin and arteries.

Broth beats the pill form of glucosamine for several reasons: It contains the full spectrum of molecules that glucosamine is only a small part of, and it does not undergo the high heat processing that pills undergo, which often ruin or lessen the nutrients in a given substance.  It also gives you calcium and minerals needed to absorb that calcium as an added benefit.

Omega 3 DHA Fatty Acids – help build nerve, brain and bone tissue, as well as strengthening immunity.

Amino Acids  bone contains as much as 6x the amount of glycine that muscle meat contains.  Also contains arginine and proline.

Magnesium – this mineral will receive its own post on the blog due to its importance for so many bodily functions.  Among them are “guarding” the channels by which calcium enters the bones – meaning that if magnesium is not present in the body, calcium cannot be absorbed by the bones.  It is also a factor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate reactions in the body, including those required for muscle and nerve function, glycolysis and energy production.

Phosphorous – required to build healthy bones and teeth, and to create ATP (energy).

Silicon – required for healthy eyes, tendons, skin and arteries.

Sulphur – required to build collagen, keratin (for healthy nails/hair) and for respiration.

Calcium – it has been debated whether or not there is a substantial amount of calcium in bone broth.  However, it is worth noting here even if it is not a large amount, because due to the presence of the aforementioned minerals, whatever calcium exists in the broth will be readily absorbed by the body.

In short, it’s really, really good for your tendons, ligaments, joints and bones.  Sound like something an athlete wants in their diet?

So, unless you can secure stock from a source that you know uses actual bones and avoids using the high heat used to over-process (and ruin) the aforementioned nutritional benefits, you may be wondering how to make your own.  It may sound a little complicated, but it is actually quite cheap and easy.  It will take some time to cook, so if you do not have one, I’d recommend a crockpot so that you can just toss everything in and wait, not worrying about a flame on in your house.  If not, a giant soup pot will do.

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Sam’s Homemade Chicken Stock – adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe, with suggestions to maximize nutritional value from Dr. Cate Shanahan

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds chicken bones – cracked to release marrow – you can find them in Whole Foods for a dollar a pound.  You can also keep bones from previously cooked chicken dishes.  Better to use organic because a healthy animal is a healthier meal, but I don’t always.  I prefer to buy at Mayflower Poultry in Cambridge, MA, because they also sell Chicken Feet.

3-4 chicken feet – I was once told by an older Chinese man that making soup with this is like “sticking an IV in your vein.”  Very rich source of collagen, feet have been used for healing and health in China for thousands of years.  Tyson chicken actually exports the feet that they don’t use over to China to be sold.  Be sure to scrub them before you use them.

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2 cups white wine or some sort of vinegar – this, along with the following three acidic vegetables, will help to leach extra calcium out of the bones you are using.

3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
20 sprigs fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
20 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Step 1:  Put bones, feet, wine/vinegar and veggies into the crock or stove pot.  Pour cold water over it, up to the top (some will evaporate), bring to a boil, and turn down the heat.  If using a crockpot, putting it on low will do just fine.  I leave it uncovered so that it can evaporate and so that I can remember to skim the fat off of the top when it rises up there, but it’s debatable if you need to cover it or not.  Leave no warmer than a slight bubble (NOT BOILING unless you want rancid stock) for 17 hours (some western chefs cook for much less than this – however being determined to maximize the nutritional benefit I go the full 18 I have heard from a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine).

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Step 2:  Add herbs etc. to the pot – you can add them at the beginning but they’ll lose their flavor.

Step 3:  Let sit another hour, then let it cool before straining the stock into a big bowl.  If you put it in too warm it may ruin other things in the fridge…just a warning.

Step 4:  Take it out of the fridge, strain it through a cheesecloth if you would like a more even consistency, and pour your earnings into mason jars to store it!  I keep one jar in the fridge (will be good for a week or so), and the rest in the freezer (can keep for a few months).  Keep a little space at the top when filling jars because broth expands as it freezes.

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Use as a base for soups, or in place of some or all of the water for making things such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat – I actually find the flavor preferable to using water.

As for the expense:

The veggies and herbs I usually pick up at Trader Joe’s, usually costing me under $10.  Because of the way that they are sold, I usually come home with twice as much as I need for this recipe, so I will make stock twice within a week and have stock for 4-6 weeks (and I use a lot of it).  Chicken bones and feet are usually a dollar a pound or cheaper, so we’ll say $2.50.  So $12.50 for the base of a lot of what I do in the kitchen for 4-6 weeks.  I usually use at least a cup and half a day in something or rather…so that’s around $.29-$.44 per serving…a worthwhile investment given the above information.

Enjoy!

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Above: Soup made by roasting olive oil, parsley and garlic in one saucepan for a couple minutes before adding chickpeas, covering the pot and cooking 12-15 minutes, while cooking the aforementioned broth, onions, broccoli, salt, pepper and grass-fed butter in the other for the same amount of time, before combining for the last five minutes.  On the side is organic whole milk yogurt with apple and chia seeds.

Sources:

“Deep Nutrition” by Dr. Catherine Shanahan

“Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford

Weston A. Price Foundation, westonaprice.org

Ina Garten’s Chicken Stock:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chicken-stock-recipe.html