The Big Benefits of a Basic Broth

“Bone broth”. You read that right. Before you squirm away from the dish simply because bone is in the name, take a minute to read about the variety of ways the simple but versatile broth benefits your health.

Co-owners Emmele Herrold and Beth Hussey
Hazel, Ravines and Downtown co-owners Emmele Herrold (left) and Beth Hussey (right) Photo Credit: Stephen B. Photography

Emmele Herrold, co-owner and Executive Chef at Hazel, Ravines and Downtown in Birmingham,  is responsible for menu development, operations, staffing and management. As the Executive Chef, Herrold serves bone broth to customers daily.

“Bone broth is a broth stew made from the femur and knuckle bone of a cow. It is cooked for a very long time, about twelve hours, with the bone and some vegetables, so carrots, celery, onion and some seasoning. It’s reduced down…until it becomes very flavorful and all of the nutrients from the bone come out into the broth,” Herrold said.

It is simple to make. Take a cow bone and some vegetables and let it cook throughout the day. That’s all it takes. As simple as the dish may be, there are many reasons why you should add it to your list of dishes to eat (or drink) regularly.

In addition to having a great taste, bone broth has plenty of health benefits.

“Bone marrow is good for our health and our bodies. All of those nutrients get cooked down and reduced into the broth,” Herrold explained. “When you drink the broth, you’re getting all the nutrients from the marrow of the bone. Collagen…is good for your skin, which is why it’s such a hit.”

Bone broth doesn’t just benefit your skin. The bone marrow is one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the body, offering glutamine and proline which strengthen the immune system, fight inflammation and heal the gut lining. Bone marrow also provides glycine, which has been shown to improve memory and sleep. The vitamins and minerals in bone broth also strengthen bones and teeth. Bone broth helps to maintain hydration by acting as a source of electrolytes.

In fact, the reason Hazel, Ravines and Downtown started offering bone broth is because of the benefits. When co-owner Beth Hussey’s elderly mother fell and broke her hip, she decided to drink bone broth to aid in her recovery.

“She was trying to recover and heard about the benefits of bone broth and started drinking it every day and made a very very quick recovery and she gives a lot of that credit to the bone broth,” Herrold said.

While hearing “bone” in the name of a dish you’re going to be eating may not sound appealing, bones are involved in the cooking process of most soups. It’s the way in which bone broth is cooked that makes it far healthier.

According to Herrold, the most important factor when cooking bone broth is the time spent.

“You have to cook it for a very long time,” she said. “That’s what actually gets the nutrients into the broth. I think that’s the most important thing- it is meant to be cooked no less than eight hours otherwise you’re not really getting any of the benefits.”

Hazel, Ravines and Downtown offers three types of menus ranging from familiar foods to new and inventive. “There’s so many benefits (from bone broth) but really it’s the simplest thing we do,” Herrold said. “I think the labor of love is really fun…it doesn’t have to be fancy in order to be good and benefit our health. I think that for me is the part that makes it stand out.”

The simplicity of bone broth is a great reminder that food doesn’t have to be fancy to be healthy. Some of the most basic dishes can provide the most substantial health benefits.

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Main image photo credit: Hazel, Ravines and Downtown

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