Eating the way Grandma used to is not as silly as it sounds. I'm not talking about eating 5 day old bread, I'm talking the simple stuff, like getting the most out of every piece of produce that comes into the house. It saves waste and you can create amazingly nourishing meals in one pot. Everyone's grandma has a remedy for the common cold, no matter where in the world you come from, and it was passed down from generation to generation. With our "busy" lifestyles and convenient food, some of these traditions are being lost and the knowledge that comes along with it. "Flavour" now comes from 30 or 40 chemicals in a box rather than from a herby plant in the back yard and a smack of salt. There are good reasons why Grandma was right about chicken soup, and you're about to find out why.
What a Waste
Every household in Australia throws out an average of 5kg of food waste per week. We have food in abundance, all year round, our incomes are higher and our gratitude for every mouthful is but a whisper. We don't know what it means to "go without" like the generations before us and we are probably no more healthier than those who went through the depression or war. We may not be dying of infectious diseases (hmmm, as I write this in the middle of COVID-19....), but our rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are through the roof. These are all diseases caused by increased stress, sugar, artificial ingredients and poor lifestyle (aka: gluttony and lazy-arse-ness). Our ancestors spent 10's of 1000's of years adapting to the introduction of fire cooking, small scale farming animals and crops, but today our bodies have no chance of adapting to the change in diet that has occurred over the past 50 years. Point being, if you want to reverse the damage of our modern diet, then go back to the way Grandma ate.....so simple it's stupid, right?
Sounds like hard work?
I heard you sigh, you know you did. Yep, I'm talking about getting back in the kitchen. It's not as hard as it sounds, you just have to retrain your shopping and cooking habits and you'll see there's money to be saved and health to be gained. It's a no-brainer once you understand why. Planning is key, but I get it, it doesn't come easy to some because you just wing it each day normally. I'll leave that for another post. However you get food into your kitchen, use every scrap of it even when it looks tired and sad in the bottom of the fridge. Allocate one day of the week as "clean out day" and don't buy new food until the old stuff is gone. That's where the one pot wonders come in, chop it all up small, make a soup or add a cheap cut of meat, fresh herbs from the garden and slow cook the lot into a lovely, sloppy bowl of goodness. That's one way to save waste, but let's take it a step further.
What about that chicken soup?
The second part of saving waste to nourish your family is to save the scraggy ends of your veggies and the bones from whatever you cook, even the chewed ones. Keep them in a (sturdy) bag in the freezer ready for making your big pot of broth that you then have good to go all the time. This is where the quality counts. Vegetables that are grown in quality soils and are without chemicals hold more nutrients, as do animals that have been bred eating grass or foraging in paddocks.
You are what your food eats.
All the flavours from roasting the bones or saucy additions make it all the better. Ask your butcher for a few fresh bones or chicken carcasses to add into the mix, cheap as chips. You can follow my recipe for bone broth as a guide, but you can't go wrong. What is the point of all this? Normally you would throw all these things in the bin, which go in the earth and ferment away without oxygen, and Mother Earth doesn't like that! As the broth simmers for many hours, the bones end up crumbly and falling apart, lifeless, as the minerals are drawn out and the collagen from the sinew and tendons dissolve, provide you with a source of gelatin to gobble up. Gelatin forms the structure of hair, nails and bones and it deteriorates over the years. Regular consumption of broth can replace it and improve joint health, strengthen nails and hair, and is super soothing and healing for the gut lining. A healthy gut lining improves digestion and creates the perfect environment for your gut bugs, the controllers of all health. Another bonus is that the amino acid, glycine, is abundant in gelatin and has been known to aid sleep. Yay!
How to get some in every day
Ok so you've boiled up a monster pot of broth, what next? I pour mine off in to glass jars, not quite filled to the top, let it cool then pop them in the freezer. Now you can include it in your cooking adding flavour as well as goodness. or enjoying sipping on it in a cup with some salt and spices. Yep! It's actually very yummy with a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, quality salt and lemon juice, just like a cup of tea.....some of you may remember Bonox?? It was gross really, but based on a cup of beef broth that was sipped. "Tea, coffee, Bonox??" There are other ways to get gelatin in your diet and that is to make slow cooked meats such as shanks, osso bucco, shoulder cuts of meat, beef cheeks. It's the same deal, long slow cooking breaks down all the fibres making them easier to digest, draws out the minerals and creates such an awesome flavour that you don't need to add much else. Plus, they're all the cheap cuts of meat as they're so tough and sinewy. Cha-Ching!! Plus, you can bang on the slow cooker or pot in a low oven in the morning and dinner is D.O.N.E. Talk about bang for your buck!
Either way, it is highly nutritious, soothing and has always been known that Grandma’s chicken soup fixes everything!