Busy Week? Roast Chicken is Your Best Bet!

Wow! Does it ever feel like the to-do list keeps growing while the things that get checked off the list grows ever more miniscule? Well, that is where we have been! This year, I have been homeschooling my children and it has been hard to find the time to do much else. It seems life got away from me, but we are back with another installment of recipe goodness here on the Vibrant Food+ Life.


When life feels overwhelmingly busy, it is even more important to prioritize our nutrition so that we are fueling our bodies with whole foods (instead of sweets and caffeine). But when you are busy it is also important to maximize your time in the kitchen. That is why my absolute favorite meal is a roast chicken dinner because it is usually 3 meals in one and you can use all of it, including the bones to make oh so delicious, nurturing, and gut-loving broth.





I love roast chicken. It has been my favorite since I was a kid and I have great memories of the roast chicken my mom would prepare. It is easy to throw together, satisfying and both my kids will eat it, which is a huge bonus. For our family of four, one chicken will usually get us dinner, leftovers for lunch, and bone broth which is usually made into another meal. Healthy and economical!


Start with your favorite roast chicken recipe. I like to chop up some root vegetables, onions and garlic and put those on the bottom of my roasting pan. I like a spatchcocked chicken because I find it cooks a little more evenly and a touch quicker. The vegetables cook in all that lovely roast chicken juices.


After you have enjoyed your meal and removed all the meat to store for your next meal, now it is time to make bone broth! I like to add cinnamon, star anise and a some dried chaga mushrooms to my broth. I have seen recipes with goji berries added. Really you can customize this recipe to your taste and nutritional needs (I’ve included a recipe for bone broth below). What you really want to do is take your time with it. When your bone broth is ready and refrigerated, it should be gelatinous- that is when you know that you will be getting the full benefit that this simple but nutritious dish has to offer. When made correctly, bone broth is rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. One of the greatest benefits of bone broth is collagen, among the most abundant proteins in the body. Collagen is a key component in the connective tissue of the intestines and helps to maintain and repair the gut lining.[1] Collagen also has a positive impact on the mucous that lines the intestines thus decreasing gut permeability.[2] Collagen is made up of 18 different amino acids, including l-glutamine and glycine. L-glutamine is essential in protecting, restoring, and maintaining the lining of the gut by increasing the tight junctions of the cells that make up the intestinal wall[3] as well as protecting the mucosa of the intestinal lining. L-glutamine also helps to boost immune cell activity in the gut.[4] Glycine, meanwhile, has anti-inflammatory properties and immune modulating properties (helps to turn down an overactive immune response or turn up an underactive immune response).[5] Additionally, glycine appears regulate the overgrowth of E. coli, a bacterium present in the large intestine that can cause serious infections.[6] Finally, glycine supports the liver in detoxification and therefore can mitigate inflammation in the body overall by supporting this function.[7]


So, bone broth, in my humble opinion, is fully deserving of the hype. Bonus, bone broth can really be enjoyed on its own or you can use it to up the nutritional profile of your favorite homemade soup like this amazing Moroccan inspired Red Lentil and Apricot Soup.






Red Lentil and Apricot Soup

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 45 minutes

Serves four


As always, whenever possible, choose organic ingredients.

1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

¼ tsp white pepper

¾ cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

8 apricots, sulfite free, chopped

4 cups chicken bone broth

1 28 oz can san Marzano peeled tomatoes

1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 lemon, wedged


Method:

1. In a large dutch oven, melt ghee. Add onion and sautee for 4 minutes add carrots and celery and continue to sautee for 4 more minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Sautee until fragrant.

2. Add spices, lentils, and apricots. Stir to combine. Allow to sautee together for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add bone broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce to low-medium heat and simmer covered until lentils are cooked.

5. Transfer to a venting blender or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.

6. Garnish with cilantro and lemon if desired. (truthfully, the lemon adds a lot here)



Basic Bone Broth

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 2-24 hours

Makes 8-10 cups

My preference here is to do this in a pressure cooker (2.5 hours) or instant pot (3-4 hours). You can do it on your stove-top, but my experience is that it actually loses too much liquid this way. The other option is your slow cooker on high (24 hours). This recipe is just meant as a loose guide- you should really make it your own.

Ingredients:

1. Chicken bones from one chicken, meat and skin removed. They need to be cooked (so eat your roast chicken dinner J).

2. 1 onion roughly chopped.

3. 1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)

4. 6 cloves of garlic, smashed

5. 1-2 inch piece ginger

6. 1 tbsp chaga mushroom

7. 1 cup shitake mushroom

8. 1-2 cinnamon sticks

9. 3 pieces of star anise

10. 15 pepper corns

11. 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (weird, yes, but trust me)

12. 1 tbsp sea salt.

Method:

Put everything in your pressure cooker and fill with filtered water until your ingredients are covered.

Set instant pot to pressure cooker and program for high pressure for 4 hours.

Once it is done, strain out the veggies so you are left with just the broth. At this point, I like to put it into the fridge to cool. You’ll know you made an excellent bone broth if it congeals. Once it’s cooled, I like to scrape off any fat and transfer it to mason jars to store in the freezer if I am not using it right away. Will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. 4 days in the fridge.




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[1] Murray, Michael et al. Encyclopedia of Healing foods. New York, New York: Atria Books, 2005. [2] Carlson, T L et al. “Engineering the Mucus Barrier.” Annual review of biomedical engineering vol. 20 (2018): 197-220. PMC, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463277/ [3] Rao, RadhaKrishna, and Geetha Samak. “Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions.” Journal of epithelial biology & pharmacology vol. 5,Suppl 1-M7 (2012): 47-54. PMC,ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4369670/ [4] Knoff, Laura J., N.C. The Whole Food Guide to Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2010. [5] Bischoff, Stephan C et al. “Intestinal permeability--a new target for disease prevention and therapy.” BMC gastroenterology vol. 14 189. 18 Nov. 2014. PMC, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4253991/ [6] Knoff, Laura J., N.C. The Whole Food Guide to Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2010. [7] Knoff, Laura J., N.C. The Whole Food Guide to Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications Inc., 2010.

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