I did a talk last week for a very lovely group of student teachers and newly qualified teachers. Those of you reading who have experienced full time teaching will know all too well the sheer resilience, stamina and sheer bloody mindedness required to survive in such an environment. My heart went out to these enthusiastic, intelligent and capable young adults who were already showing some signs of stress and exhaustion.
My talk was on stress management through making easy tweaks to some of the most vital influences on human health – those of sunlight, movement, nutrition, hydration and sleep. I hope they make some of the changes I suggested. They were time honoured diet and lifestyle habits that should discourage early burn-out.
There was some good discussion on a few of the ideas, particularly with regard to sleep practices. But the question they asked that probably took the most explanation was this, “So what do you eat for breakfast?”
The look of horror and incredulity on their faces when I replied, “well… currently it’s bone broth!” was priceless. A few months ago I’d have laughed at me too. Because something sweet and carby is surely the ultimate in breakfast? Perking you up when you don’t really want to eat much but need a boost? No..?
Well no. Because that sweet and carby stuff does a number on your blood sugar levels and so, in turn messes up your natural cortisol cycle. And what does cortisol do? It waits in the wings ready to increase your blood glucose to help fuel a flight-or-fight response. Then you’ve got to produce insulin to deal with that spike. And the more you call on cortisol and insulin at the wrong times the less response you get when you need them. And so bit by bit we set up an unnatural stress hormone cycle that is highly deleterious to health.
But broth and vegetables for breakfast is weird right? Well no. Ever had left over curry or noodles for breakfast? Or gorged on a fry up? Or grabbed a flakey meat pasty on the way to work? These all have that salty and comforting flavour; and combination of fat and protein that takes us back to our more primal instinctive taste preferences. But most of us probably don’t have the time or stomach to gnaw on a mammoth bone before our hunt of the day so bone broth is a perfect modern day alternative.
Glorious savoury umami flavours ready in less than five minutes and with the ability to keep you going all morning and well into the afternoon. Would you like a recipe?
Ok. The first bit does take a while, although the prep is minimal. Stick some roasted bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb or a mixture) in a slow cooker and cover with water and a tablespoon or so of sea salt. Add extra flavour if you like (garlic, onion, carrot, celery, black pepper) but don’t feel obliged. Simmer on the lowest setting for around 48 hours.
Five minutes before you want to eat, melt some pastured pork lard, beef tallow or butter ghee in a frying pan, flash fry some veg and tip into a bowl. Then ladle in a few scoops of broth straight from the crockpot. That’s it! Change the vegetables you use, experiment with herbs and spices, add some cooked meat or eggs if you need the extra protein (although your broth will have a decent amount already.)
And there you have it! A serving or two of vegetables, some healthy fat, some essential minerals and a tonne of gut-healing, infection-fighting, inflammation-reducing, bone building and skin-beautifying collagen all before you leave the house. Let me know if you’ve tried it or are planning to!