We started this blog with the intention to do biweekly updates, but several things have halted progress on that front. Most distinctly, my health. After going in to the doctor for a suspicious lump under my armpit, through blood tests originally taken to determine if my blood cell counts were at scary cancerous levels, we found out that my blood volume was dangerously low – half of what it should be at the lowest average level, that I was dangerously anemic, and that I have celiac disease. Several blood & stool samples, antibiotics, iron supplements, gallons of orange juice (the vitamin C helps your body absorb iron better), and various other medical interventions, here we are. I’ve been eating an exclusively gluten free diet for about a month now and I’ve immediately seen a huge difference in the way I feel and look. The whole blood volume and iron deficiency issue is still being worked on, but it will probably be up to 6 months before that’s even fractionally resolved. Can’t wait for those monthly blood tests.*
I have more energy, I’m more alert, my sleeping patterns are better, I’ve been experiencing less fibromyalgia flare-ups, and am experiencing significantly less gastrointestinal issues. I’ve lost 5 lbs. and have seen a noticeable difference in bloating. I’m fitting into my “skinny” jeans again without effort. I don’t have to lay down to get them buttoned and zipped. No muffin top. To say that I’m amazed is putting it mildly. Looking back on how I’ve reacted physically, emotionally, and somatically in the past after eating meals with wheat, I can see where the issue was.
For example, my husband (Chuck) and I completed the 21 Day Sugar Detox in January in hopes of cutting down on our sugar consumption. I knew I was out of control with my 12 oz. can of ginger ale per day habit. When Amanda, a college friend, put out an open call for people to join her in doing 21DSD, I immediately said I’d join her. The day Chuck and I were done, we visited Granite City and partook in carb-ladened, flour filled meals. I got through 3 bites of my “adult” macaroni and cheese made with regular penne pasta and a buttery bread crumb topping before I was so bloated that my jeans felt 2 sizes too small and had to visit the restroom. I was miserable.
Needless to say, this celiac diagnosis makes a lot of sense and makes me feel almost like a weight has been lifted. I know what was wrong with me and it’s fixable. I can live with this, although it may be difficult. In the meantime, you’ll be benefitting from my issues. I’m cooking a lot more now, as I’m afraid that I don’t have many options for gluten-free eating where I live. Recently, I’ve been pretty obsessed with making bone broth and having a warmed cup in the morning with my breakfast like someone else would have a cup of coffee. I try to use lots of anti-inflammatory ingredients when making bone broth, like ginger, garlic, dark leafy greens that are about to turn, and onion ends. We normally roast a whole chicken at least once per week, so once we’ve picked over the carcass, I put it in a ziploc bag in the freezer. When I have some ends of vegetables or extra bones from bone-in steaks, pork chops, or random other vegetables that are about to turn, I put them in the bag as well.
Rotating clockwise from top left: everything spicy, lemon & garlic, garlic lovers, and everything Flavor God seasonings.
Simmering broth – the vegetables break down quite a bit, but that’s what you’re after so the nutrients can leach out into the broth. Once you’re done simmering the broth for 48 hours, the vegetables should be falling apart and have little to no flavor left to them.
Once that bag is full, I pull it out and throw it in the electric roasting pan on 220* for about 48 hours with enough water to cover it, plus about an inch more of water, a tablespoon or two of some kind of acid, like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice, and a liberal sprinkling of a good quality salt, like Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. About 15 minutes before I turn off the roasting pan, I sprinkle in about a tablespoon of Flavor God‘s Everything or Garlic lovers seasoning, stirring it in. As the water evaporates, I add more in so it doesn’t burn. I try to heat the water on the stove before I pour it in so it doesn’t drastically change the temperature of the broth, but I have been known to just throw a carafe full of water directly into the roasting pan. What can I say? This bitch lives dangerously. On occasion, I’ve purchased beef marrow bones to supplement what I already have. When I use those, I turn the roasting pan on 400*, lay the bones in the bottom of the pan marrow side down (the side with the most marrow showing), and roast them for 20-30 minutes. This gives a richer flavor and depth to the taste of the broth and it generally produces a darker broth in color as well.
Cooled and congealed fat on top of broth
Once everything cools enough to comfortably pick up the roasting pan, I strain the bones and vegetables through a fine mesh strainer and allow the broth to cool in the refrigerator until the fat forms a layer on the top of the broth and the broth is completely cool.
Skimmed and rinsed fat chunks
Skimming the fat off, I put the chunks back into a fine mesh strainer, then rinse it with cool water, saving it for cooking later. Supposedly, the rinsed fat can be saved for up to 6 months, but I don’t keep it past a week. (Not that it often lasts longer than that time period anyhow…)
The cooled broth goes into pint sized mason jars and I use it in my cooking or as my morning warm cup of something. It especially makes for an awesome risotto.
4 pints of bone broth and 6 ounces of fat
There’s tons of articles and blogs out there on the advantages of adding bone broth to your diet, so I won’t go into it here, but regardless of its benefits, it’s fucking delicious, so you should try making a batch of your own. If nothing else, you can keep it on hand for a more delicious and nutrient dense version of the “stock” in the grocery stores, since the FrankenFood you’ll find there is made of sub par ingredients, often has added sugar, chemically modified salts, added flavorings, and added colorings. This may be an issue for individuals who have gluten sensitivities, since caramel coloring in particular is a triggering ingredient.
Gluten free or not, I hope you try your hand at making your own bone broth at home. Like I said… it’s fucking delicious. Going forward, I’ll be posting at least once per week on Mondays. Enjoy, bitches!
*Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it still entertains me.