Keep Your Skin, Bones & Muscles in Tip-Top Shape
Health class taught us that a varied and nutrient-rich diet will help us to grow strong and tall. But did anybody tell us how to make this a reality? Not so much!
Fortification sounds profoundly militaristic, but when we are building the complex cellular matrix that is our skin, bones and muscles, fortifying foods are exactly what we need. We need to look to nutrient-dense foods with a diverse array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that will offer the building blocks both for growth and for cellular repair.
The flavor profiles that often contain these vital materials are the much misunderstood sweet and salty. Body-building herbs–such as alfalfa, nettle and even chamomile– offer minerals essential to building and maintaining a healthy body. Pungent herbs such as cumin and cayenne maximize the absorption of various nutrients.
Ladle up a bowl of Bone Broth with Bone-Building Herbs to replenish spent mineral stores.
Do your body a solid and start cooking with intention. Your food choices will keep you strong.
Bone Broth with Bone-Building Herbs
Farm wives have been making bone broth for years in the “waste not, want not” way of life. Using every part of a harvested animal keeps your family fed and is respectful of the life that was sacrificed for nourishment. This recipe uses peeled chicken feet for a thick, silky broth; they can be ordered from your grocery store butcher. If you are uncomfortable with chicken feet, wing tips can also be ordered from the butcher.
Bone broth is a nutritious food that offers tremendous benefits. The minerals and collagen that are extracted over the course of hours or days make for a nutrient-dense broth. The broth is full of vital amino acids that support bone and connective tissue health as well as skin firmness and elasticity. Bone broths are ideal for those with a delicate digestive system as the gelatin present in the broth helps to repair the mucosal lining of the GI tract. Robust herbs such as stinging nettle and clover contribute vitamins and minerals vital to cellular growth and repair.
Bone broth will be quite gelatinous when cool. This contributes a silky texture when used in soups and stews.
Flavor Profile: Salty
Makes: A generous gallon (3.8 L)
- 1-1-1/2 lb (450-680 g) bones from a whole chicken
- 1/2 lb (226 g) peeled and washed chicken feet or wing tips
- 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup (7 g) dried nettle leaves
- 1/4 cup (7 g) dried red clover blossoms
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Add the bones, feet, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, vinegar, nettle, clover blossoms and salt and pepper, to taste, to a large stockpot or slow cooker.
- Add enough cold water to cover the chicken carcass by about 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm). Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for a minimum of 12 hours, up to 36 hours.
- After simmering the stock, strain it through several layers of cheesecloth or flour sack cloth.
- Pour the stock into quart- or pint-sized (940- or 475-ml) containers, leaving room for expansion, and freeze them. Alternatively, this bone broth can be pressure-canned; do not water-bath can this broth. Note: The high temperatures will affect its ability to properly gel when cooled.
Bone broth should never be aggressively boiled. Maintain a gentle simmer for long periods of time to ensure a clear, rich broth.
Nettle Egg Noodles
A fellow blogger, Kathie Lapcevic of Homespun Seasonal Living, created a batch of homemade egg noodles using dandelion–and I just knew that I had to do something similar with stinging nettle. If you have never had homemade egg noodles, you’re in for a real treat. And freshly foraged stinging nettle delivers a punch of nutrition and earthy green flavor that is welcome on a late-winter day.
Nettle is a truly fortifying food, as well as one of my favorite medicinal herbs. It is high in vitamins A and K, loaded with calcium and manganese and full of quercetin, making it a highly restorative wild herb worth foraging for. In absence of fresh nettle, spinach may be substituted for a similar flavor and nutritional profile.
These noodles are best dressed simply with brown butter, toasted pine nuts and an aged hard cheese. Serve the noodles alone for a celebration of pasta, or alongside grilled chicken
for a more substantial meal.
Flavor Profile: Salty, Sweet
Serves: 4 to 6
4 cups (5 oz [142 g]) fresh stinging nettle leaves, packed
2 whole large eggs
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
1⁄2 tsp sea salt, plus more for pasta water
Your favorite sauce or brown butter and aged cheese, for serving
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 6 cups (1.4 L) of water to a boil. Add the nettle and blanch them for 30 seconds. Strain the leaves and transfer them to an ice-water bath to shock. This process eliminates the sting of the nettle and preserves its bright green color.
Drain the nettle in a colander lined with cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess moisture. In a blender or a food processor, add the nettle and the eggs. Blend until it’s smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds. Set it aside.
Sift together the flour and salt onto a clean work surface. Mound the flour mixture and make a well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well. Using a fork, work the flour into the liquid, about 5 minutes. You may need to add or subtract flour to achieve a slightly stiff dough.
When the dough is stiff, knead it on a floured work surface until it’s smooth
and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a rolling pin or a pasta roller, roll the dough until it is about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick. Using a pizza wheel or the cutting attachment on the pasta roller, cut to the desired length and width. Leave the pasta on the floured surface to rest.
Fill a large stockpot with water and a generous amount of salt. Place it over high heat and bring the water to a boil. When the water comes to a full boil, add the pasta. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s al dente, then strain. Do not rinse.
Dress the pasta with your favorite sauce, or with a little brown butter and aged cheese.
Reprinted with permission from The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen by Devon Young, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Devon Young