I absolutely adore this time of year! Not only because I’m a self-proclaimed Christmas-freak and love Nutcracker season (that’s right, I said it – I LOVE NUTCRACKER – even after 3 decades of performing it every single year!)…but also because the cold weather turns warm drinks into the perfect comforting treat. Really, what could be better than curling up under a fuzzy blanket with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in your hands while watching “Elf” under the glow of the Christmas tree lights? #perfection
While I fully admit that sometimes the indulgent mug of rich hot chocolate is absolutely necessary to fulfill your need for pleasure, that doesn’t always align with your other goals when aiming for performance power or fat loss. In those scenarios, it’s nice to have another option when you are craving the comfort from a warm “treat” but don’t want to veer off your path. Rather than the pure pleasure of hot chocolate, you want the nourishing benefits from a healthy concoction to optimize your fat loss and heal your tired, overworked body.
Well, I have the perfect recipe for you today – Joint Juice (a.k.a. bone broth). This is something that is really becoming popular these days due to all the health benefits found in this seemingly simple liquid. As the bones and connective tissues break down through the long cooking process, type II collagen is released in the broth, which can only be gleaned from animal sources like these and is responsible for many of the health benefits below. The bones also infuse the broth with amino acids, minerals, and other compounds that enhance the body’s natural healing process – something we dancers desperately need whether we are recovering from a dance related injury or just dealing with the everyday wear and tear that goes along with our career.
We put our bodies through the ringer day in and day out. In particular, we are so rough on our joints – constantly ripping, tearing, and forcing them to achieve all these unnatural ballet positions. To counteract repetitive motion injuries and the onset of arthritis (*Arthritis is not something only “old people” need to worry about. By the time arthritis is diagnosed, it’s too late. You need to think about preventing it now, before you do so much damage to your joints that they are irreparable), we need something extra to nourish those joints. That’s why I dubbed this “Joint Juice.” It’s not just a comfort drink; it’s a recovery drink for all your athletic endeavors.
Here are just a few of its health benefits:
- Heals your gut and aids in digestion – acts as food for your gut microbiome which is responsible for healthy metabolism and immune function
- Detoxifies your liver and GI tract
- Reduces inflammation and joint pain and enhances joint health – helps heal injuries, arthritis and sore muscles
- Nourishes skin, hair, teeth and nails
- Improves sleep quality and helps relieve anxiety
- Supplies easily absorbed nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, gelatin
For those of you following my FAT LOSS GAME PLAN, this Joint Juice is something that can be enjoyed anytime – whether you are in the Clean Eating Phase or the Vibrant Phase.
- It is particularly useful if you are in the Clean Eating Phase, since it serves as a comforting “treat.” Late at night when you are snacky and jonesing for something to munch on while you wind down in front of the tv, you can heat up a mug of this stuff to get that hit of comfort while staying on track towards your goals. Plus, since this concoction does wonders for repairing your gut and resetting your digestive system, it optimizes your fat loss potential!
- And, when you are in the Vibrant Phase, you can feel good about nourishing your body with this Joint Juice as you push for your performance goals. After a long day of rehearsals where you are grinding away at your body, you can relax in the evening, stick your feet in a bucket of ice, and sip this nurturing concoction to replenish your tissues for the next day.
This recipe can be made in an instant pot or slow cooker. Both versions are below. The preparation is super simple, but it does take a while to cook. The long cooking time (or pressurized cooking time as in with the instant pot) is crucial for allowing all the connective tissues and bone minerals to dissolve and infuse the broth with healing nutrients. That’s why this recipe is so awesome in the slow cooker and instant pot…you just set it and forget it until the timer goes off and suddenly you have a magic cauldron of Joint Juice!
It might seem a little daunting the first time you make this recipe, but just do it! Throw yourself into the adventure, and you’ll discover that it really is quite easy to make. And the health benefits far outweigh the small investment on your part to spend 2 minutes tossing all the ingredients in a big pot. If you make this, let me know how it turns out!
TOTAL TIME: About 3 hours in instant pot or 18-72 hours in slow cooker
SERVINGS: A lot ;)
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: 6 quart instant pot or slow cooker
- 2 ½ to 3 pounds assorted organic meat bones (chicken, beef, pork – I just used the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving!)
- 2 carrots chopped in large pieces
- 2 celery stalks chopped in large pieces
- 1 onion cut in half (leave the skin on – just make sure to rinse it)
- 4 cloves garlic (leave the skin on)
- Assortment of fresh herbs or dried herbs (I used 4 sprigs of thyme and 2 bay leaves)
- 1-2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (this helps leach the minerals out of the bones!)
- Generous pinch of whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups of filtered water (or enough to come to 1-inch below MAX fill line)
- Place the bones in the instant pot or slow cooker. Add in the vegetables, herbs, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns and salt.
- Fill the pot with water to 1-inch below the MAX fill line or just shy of the top of the slow cooker.
- If using an instant pot: Make sure the sealing ring is in place on the lid. Lock the lid onto the instant pot and set the steam release knob to the "sealing" position. Press the “manual” button and set the instant pot for high pressure for 120 minutes. It will take about 15-30 minutes for the pot to pressurize, then the timer will start counting down on the display. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally until the float valve drops. It will take about 15-30 minutes. If using a slow cooker: Place the lid on the slow cooker, turn it on Low, and cook 18-72 hours. If the water level drops too low (less than halfway), you may want to add a bit of hot water to the mix.
- Strain the broth through a cheesecloth or strainer and allow to cool. A layer of fat will gelatinize on the surface once cooled. Skim the fat off with a spoon and discard (or save on the side to cook veggies or eggs in later!).
This Joint Juice will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can freeze any leftovers to reheat for later use.