Recently I completed the The Three Day Refresh, a cleanse designed by Beachbody to help get one’s nutrition on track. This particular cleanse is sustainable for me in that it allows solid food (whole fruits, veggies, and good fats). The program came with dinner recipes and suggested a cup of warm broth to accompany dinner. That eventually became the highlight of the cleanse for me, and my favorite new habit that learned while on the cleanse.
As I prepped my meals for the three days, I made some homemade veggie broth to accompany dinner as suggested by the plan. I made my usual “leftover end” chicken stock but added some extra veggies and left out the chicken bones. I use a meal planning website, No More To Go, where I get my weekly variety of healthy whole meal recipes. These recipes often make use of chicken broth, so I like to keep some on hand in the freezer for any given meal so I don’t need to buy the jar, box, or condensed stuff. I never thought to use broth as my dinner drink. I think this will now become my usual dinner drink… INSTEAD OF WINE. It was THAT good. Here’s what I put in mine this week but really, any veggies you have around will work great.
- –onion: quartered and leave on the peels. I also added the extra skin and peels from my prep for the week
- — carrots: I buy those carrots with the green ends so I throw those ends in the pot (but cut off the part where the greens attach to the carrot since there is always lots of dirt in there and I’m not sure I can get it all out). I also threw veggie peels from the carrots i prepped for the week and a couple of whole carrots.
- — scallions: I cut off the delicious greens for dinners this week and threw the white ends with the fuzzy roots in the pot.
- — garlic: one whole clove with the flaky peels and all; quartered
- —celery: throw in all the droopy white pieces from the middle of the stalk, all leafy ends and also the very bottom of the nice looking stalks (where it started getting wide and white). The rest are cut up to snack on later in the week!
- — asparagus: I snapped off the ends to prep my asparagus for the week. You know those nasty woodsy parts at the bottom you always want to remove them before you cook the stalks to eat, they are perfect for broth though! Just hold the two ends of the asparagus and let the stalk breaks where it wants to and the non-flowered end is the trash. Or in this case you’re using it for delicious stock and your asparagus will taste better being rid of those woody ends
- — herbs: I use the stalky end parts of whatever herbs I have on hand for the week. This week it was thyme and parsley; but dill, tarragon, rosemary all work well too
- — seasoning: about two bay leaves, 10-15 whole peppercorns and some salt; I’m not too into salt like some if my family and friends. Since I usually make broth for cooking, I go light on the salt and season with it as I cook. Since this was for drinking straight up, I added some salt but went easy on it (since was for a cleanse) and tasted it later to make sure it didn’t need more (it didn’t).
Put all that stuff in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Then, turn down to a simmer for a few hours. This part is tricky. If the simmer is too aggressive you might boil away too much liquid and need to add more water. I tend to watch it and keep it at a very low simmer but let it reduce a little to get extra concentrated and flavorful.
Once it’s done, you drain out the veggies (and my mom always looks at me like I’m wasting the veggies since I toss them… But really there’s no use for them since all the flavor and nutrients are in your broth!) I usually refrigerate the broth for a day or two and then freeze it in quart size freezer bags (1 or two cups at a time) for use while cooking later. I’ve heard of people freezing it in ice cube trays but I find that to be a hassle especially since I cook with it and most recipes usually call for a cup or two at a time. I lay the quart bags flat on a baking sheet (only one level high, once I had them stacked upon each other and the weight of the liquid burst the bags and that sucked). Once frozen I organize them standing upright like books on a bookshelf 🙂
Just today, a friend passed me an article by Dr Sears about the benefits of “bone broth.” While the term bone broth sounds somewhat gross to me (although bone marrow is a whole other story…mmmm), I had no idea about the boost your immunity, benefits to your gut, reduction of inflammation that bone broth provides. And of course, another positive is that it is now hip in New York City for those very reasons. In the past, I always prepared chicken broth using my left over chicken bones from rotisserie chickens that I may have used for other meal prep. After the deliciousness of veggie broth I considered switching to veggies without bones for awhile. Now that I understand the specific benefits related to the bones in the broth, I think I’ll continue with my warm drink at dinner but with bones and not plan veggie.
To convert the above veggie stock to “bone stock,” throw the bones from two rotisserie chicken to add a add nice subtle flavor — if you want more “punch” you could add some cheap chicken parts (necks or legs). I like to roast them first, as I find that the roasted chicken adds a really nice flavor. Oh, and peel off the skins! It adds a layer of fat to the top of your broth that you either need to skim off the entire time you cook, or once in the fridge for a day, it’s a thick layer of fat on the top of the broth that you can just pick off with a spoon. I go with no slim and generally have very minimal fat in my broth. I also learned that adding a couple of tablespoons of vinegar not only enhances the flavor, it helps the minerals more easily leech the valuable minerals from the bones to the stock.
I’m excited to try some new broth ideas! What are your favorite broth recipes or tips?