Immune boosting ingredients you can add to your broths without impacting the flavor!
Is making broth part of your meal prep rotation? It should be! Bone broth is easy to make, full of minerals, promotes sustainability, it’s free, and is often the last needed ingredient when trying to make a quick nutritious dinner. There is no doubt that bone broth is great and can easily be incorporated into anyone’s diet. It’s ancient. Our great, great, great, great grandparents were surely consuming it, and it’s good for you. But what if we could make it…better? Sometimes I get bored with traditional celery, carrot, parsley, and onions. Sometimes I add mushrooms, astragalus root, nettle leaves, seaweed, and garlic. All of these herbs are easy to find, often times local, cheap, and are modern day super-foods. If you are anything like me, you make bone broth about 4 times per year and freeze gallons of it so you always have some on hand. All of these ingredients are being suggested with just that in mind! You can easily add them to your stock pot without impacting the brothy flavor we all know and love. Start out with just a few sprigs, leaves, or roots, and then let me know what you think!
Mushrooms are said to be one of the hottest food trends of 2018. Food manufacturing companies are adding mushroom to teas, hot chocolates, and other tasty edibles all for good reason. Mushrooms are a medicinal powerhouse and the longer they are boiled, the more nutrition they release. Shiitake mushrooms contain a polysaccharide complex that has been shown to possess immune enhancing properties. This complex also stimulates the production of interferon, macrophages, and lymphocytes which are your first line of defense against viruses. Many mushrooms are also said to have anti-tumor affects. The best part is that the fifth kingdom has so many to offer! You can add Shiitakes, Maiitakes, Porcinis, Oyster, Lions Mane…any mushroom your heart desires. I recommend adding Shiitake to start out with because their flavor is mild and earthy.
Seaweed is our richest plant source of minerals and often provides 10-20x more minerals than land based plants do. They also contain a wider range and broader spectrum of minerals necessary for humans. The minerals found in seaweed are said to promote longevity and prevent disease. So why not add a strip of seaweed to your bone broth for a long healthy life! Just keep in mind, not all seaweed is created equal. Here in Washington and all down the West coast you can forage for many different types of seaweeds. You can also find them in grocery stores but I recommend avoiding seaweed that was grown off the shores of China. My favorite dried seaweed company comes out of Mendocino County, California and you can find their products on their website here or in many natural food stores!
I can basically find any excuse to add nettle to whatever is cooking on my stove. Nettle is a rich source of iron (better than spinach!), calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and chromium. It is so rare to find all of these wonderful minerals available in a single plant. Nettle is used to strengthen the liver, combat allergies (especially hay fever), is a natural anti-histamine and is anti-inflammatory. It has a mild unique earthy taste that I adore. Adding nettle leaves to broths and soup is a good way to get used to using this beautiful herb which often has a bad reputation. If you want to try foraging for your own nettles, I wrote a blog post about it here or you can find dried nettle at most natural food stores and herb shops.
Astragalus is an adaptogen meaning that anyone can benefit from using it. Quite simply, all astragalus wants is for you to be in homeostasis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) astragalus is said to be nourishing to the vital force (Chi). It is a general immune system tonic that increases the activity of undifferentiated immune cells. It promotes endurance and stamina. It protects and is restorative to the liver and is often used as a tonic when recovering from illness. Adding a few pieces of astragalus to a pot of boiling broth is a great way to incorporate this mysterious herb into your diet. It has a sweeter flavor so if you only add a few pieces the flavor will be perfectly mild but your body will notice and appreciate the nourishment.
Garlic is like my baby. If my meal does not include garlic, I probably didn’t cook it. When someone at a retail outlet greets me and immediately apologizes for their garlic breath, I’m the one that says “it’s okay, me too!” Garlic is an antiseptic meaning it is both antibacterial and anti-fungal. It is a metabolic stimulant, clears phlegm, reduces cholesterol, is a natural blood thinner, and whatever else you want it to do! It has been used to improve heart disease, high blood pressure, eye infections, respiratory infections, coughs, colds, flus, and even obesity. I like adding cloves of garlic to my broth because it adds that allium flavor we all love but also offers so many other benefits. If your one of the few people who can’t stand garlic, try adding a few cloves to a pot of boiling broth, see if you can notice the difference, and when you can’t, sit back and slurp up all this nourishing bulb has to offer.
What secret ingredients are you adding to bone broth?
*I use the word broth and bone broth interchangeably out of respect for my vegan friends and followers :)