chicken broth

chicken broth by Muffet, on Flickr
chicken broth by Muffet, on Flickr

Normally, I prefer making broth after roasting a whole chicken, as I'm fond of the flavors that develop from the Maillard reaction. I'm just not crazy about boiled meat.

But a while back, one of my local farmers had a deal going on pastured chicken necks & backs if you bought 20 pounds, so I figured I'd make broth.

Twenty pounds is a lot more than I thought it was.

vitamin A

Retinol or Vitamin A 3D space model (balls model), by YassineMrabet, on Wikimedia Commons
Retinol or Vitamin A 3D space model (balls model), by YassineMrabet, on Wikimedia Commons

There is just so much confusion on this topic that as a chemist, I decided to set the record straight.

Vitamin A comes in a number of forms:

vitamin A; the normal form that is stored in the body; chemically it contains an alcohol functional group
the form actively used by the eye; chemically, a reduced form of retinol containing an aldehyde functional group
retinoic acid
acts as an important hormone-like growth factor; chemically, an oxidized form of retinol containing a carboxylic acid functional group
retinyl palmitate
the form found in animal foods; chemically, an ester function group joins retinol to palmitic acid (the most common saturated fatty acid)
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene and cryptoxanthin
the provitamin A forms found in plant foods; the thesis of this post is that these are not "real" vitamin A, though useful nutrients on their own

So first, let's take a look at the various forms of vitamin A...

beef broth

Beef Broth by joana hard, on Flickr
Beef Broth by joana hard, on Flickr

The primary nutrition in bone broths or stocks are due to:

  1. cartilage, which contains collagen and breaks down to gelatin (and thus the amino acids glycine and proline)
  2. minerals, especially calcium, phosphorous and magnesium
  3. marrow - with healthy fat containing vitamins A, D3, K2 and the fatty acid CLA)

Grass-fed bones are certainly better than CAFO bones, but I think this difference is much lesser than with meat. In general, I am quite happy buying non-organic bones. If the animal had bones, it has minerals. If it could stand up (a requirement in order to slaughter for food), it has collagen in it's joints. The only serious downside to CAFO bones is that the marrow will have significantly less vitamins A, D3, K2 and the fatty acid CLA. However, since I cook little bone-containing beef cuts and have to buy bones, I usually buy CAFO bones, figuring I get a lot of those nutrients from other foods in my diet.

types of bones that can be bought

marrow bones
These bones have the most marrow; they are shank bones. Marrow can be eaten prior to using the bones for broth as a nutritious and gourmet dish, or allowed to disintegrate in the broth to add more nutrition there.

phthalates as a possible cause of T2 diabetes

Poisonous substances, warning sign D-W003 according to German standard DIN 4844-2 by Torsten Henning, on Wikimedia Commons
Poisonous substances, warning sign D-W003 according to German standard DIN 4844-2 by Torsten Henning, on Wikimedia Commons

Honestly, when I started hanging out on TF blogs and forums and read about people going without shampoo and making their own lip balm, I thought they were overreacting a bit. And I continued thinking that until I read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride, who made the point that pharmaceutical drugs are commonly delivered by patches. This should've been obvious to me as I had been supplementing magnesium for some time by adding epsom salts to my bath and spraying my skin with magnesium oil.

When I thought about the fact that drugs and magnesium can be delivered straight to the bloodstream via the skin, I realized that nothing ought to be placed on the skin unless it's edible. Luckily, I had learned that coconut oil was useful for almost everything, as a deodorant, as a moisturizer, as an antibacterial on wounds, as a leave-in hair product to reduce frizziness, as a treatment to reduce stretch marks, as a lip balm, heck, it even works as a personal lubricant (though I'd not use it as such if relying on condoms).

Up until now, my decisions about things like buying soap and shampoo were primarily based on getting the best deal for my money. I'm "frugal" if you're being nice, or "cheap" if you're a teenage daughter objecting to my choices.

Synchronistically, I happened to run across this article from Diabetes in Control: Chemicals in Nail Polish, Hair Sprays Tied to Increased Diabetes Risk

curried chicken salad

curried chicken and mango salad by deirdren, on Flickr
curried chicken and mango salad by deirdren, on Flickr

I'm afraid I collected this recipe before I decided to blog, so I didn't save the URL and can't credit it properly.

I really thought this was yummy. My HHA liked it so much that after we made it here, she went home and made it herself the next week.

supplements for wusses

Vegetables by Martin Cathrae, on Flickr
Vegetables by Martin Cathrae, on Flickr

I am absolutely certain that the only right thing to do about nutrition is to get the vast majority of it from real, whole foods.

No one can be more convinced than an ex-biochemist who looks into nutrition 20 years after the first go-round; biochemistry knows today what it didn't know then, and thus doesn't know today what it will know twenty years from now.

In my highly-informed opinion (this being diametrically opposed to a humble opinion), half of our diet by volume should be non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, a quarter should be protein foods of primarily wild or pastured animal origin (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, raw dairy) and all of the above foods should be prepared and served with healthy fats (butter, lard, tallow, schmaltz, coconut oil and palm oils, olive and avocado oils). The remaining quarter of the diet can vary depending on individual needs and wants (starchy vegetables, sugary fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, legumes or just outright junk food to some degree since none of us are perfect).

Nevertheless, sometimes we've been malnourished long enough and become sick enough that we need a bit more help than food can provide. When you start looking at Weston Price's work, you realize the cultures he found so much healthier than ours achieved their health by having their mothers and grandmothers eat a healthy diet. Until we develop a flux capacitor, this method of achieving health is not available!

So depending on our health challenges, we may need some help beyond diet and that may means supplements...

Though I'd read about using dolomite in Nourishing Traditions, for some reason the idea of not swallowing piles of pills didn't really hit me until KerryAnn @ Cooking Traditional Foods discussed adding Concentrace to foods.


Risotto Giallo by micurs, on Flickr
Risotto Giallo by micurs, on Flickr

My husband is not terribly fond of broth generally, when I serve soups and stews, he tends to leave broth in the bowl rather than finishing it. Since he has joint pain, I want to get a big dose of gelatin and minerals in him as often as possible. This recipe fits the bill as it gets a lot of broth down him painlessly. It's also a refreshing summer recipe when you're not in the mood for soups and stews.

Risotto makes a nice side dish, as once you've got the technique down, you can easily change the broth and seasonings to go with your main dish. Alternatively, you can add leftover poultry or cooked beans and make it a meal.

Unfortunately, it doesn't reheat well, so it's better to make the amount you need and plan to do without leftovers. But given that it is a handy clean-out-the-fridge kind of recipe, you make it when you're trying to use up leftovers rather than create them. I tend to halve this recipe since there's just two of us.

the ThreeLac experiment



WARNING: This post may be TMI for some. Sorry, but there's just no way to discuss GI issues without... well, discussing GI issues!


I started ThreeLac in January of 2012.