So it’s definitely that time of year. Here at The Strength Temple HQ we had our first dusting of snow last night and it’s certainly getting colder. Some people find they fall prey to a cold or flu around this time of year, and we want to make sure you do everything you can to stay healthy.
Your wellbeing starts with what you put into your body. You might be craving sugars at this time of year, but don’t do it. Processed sugars are food for bacteria and not a great idea! They also cause your blood sugars to spike releasing insulin. When this happens the amino acid tryptophan is converted to serotonin in our brain making us feel happier, thus perpetuating the cravings. This is part of the reason that cramming sugary foods is a common habit during the winter months when daylight is less and some people start to be affected in varying degrees by SAD (seasonal effective disorder) sometimes known as the “winter blues”.
If you’re feeling in a bit of a funk, just recognise and acknowledge the feeling, check in with how you are talking to yourself internally and know that it will pass. Make sure you take regular walks and runs in the fresh air. When you're out, take time to bring yourself to the present moment. Listen to your environment and focus on the birdsong - it's a wonderful thing. If you think you’re not getting enough sun - perhaps take a vitamin D supplement. Finally follow our ritual and start to make your own stock. It really is very therapeutic. Indulge yourself.
There’s something amazingly pleasurable about taking a load of ingredients that many people will just throw away and creating something absolutely delicious from it to raise your food to another level. We love making stocks and watching them blipping on the stove is a magical thing and adds to the anticipation of what’s to come.
Our risottos, noodle soups, stews and sauces would all pale into insignificance if we didn’t take time to make great stock. We never purchase a whole chicken without turning what’s left of the carcass into amazing stock and you should do the same!
As far as health promoting benefits are concerned there are many. Some are based in science and some more mythical as stock has been made for thousands of years. Home made stocks contain a load of minerals (magnesium, calcium, phosphorous etc) easily absorbed by your body. They also contain broken down material from cartilage and tendons such as chondroitin and glucosamine. Yep - that’s the stuff you spend money on in your joint supplements! Finally don’t forget that it’s hydrating. You just can’t go wrong.
Remember to experiment a little with your ingredients and you will gradually get a “feel” for what makes a great stock that’s exactly to your taste.
If you want to make vegetable stock, just leave out the meat. It's that simple. For fish stocks we will write a whole new recipe. Stay tuned.
The only think we’d advise against as a rule are brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage, sprouts etc. They are a bit smelly and don’t make great stock!
(If you want to go Eastern)
Include half a Star Anise
3 large pieces of Ginger
3 Stalks of Lemmon Grass
Handful of Coriander stalks
Chilli to taste
1-2 chicken carcasses
2 sticks Celery
5 garlic cloves
Place your chicken carcass (carcasses) into a large pot.
Note: If you are using raw carcasses cover them with filtered water and bring them to the boil before adding the remaining ingredients. As soon as they are boiling, discard the water and continue as below. Raw Carcasses produce a lighter coloured stock with a slightly different flavour. This process removes a bitter note from the stock and is often forgotten. Also, ensure you maintain good hygiene if using raw carcasses, washing your hands and paying attention to your work surfaces.
Add the remaining ingredients roughly chopped.
Finally fill the pot with filtered water to just above the level of the contents and put on a high heat to bring to a boil. When at boiling point, turn down the heat so the surface just “blips” with bubbles and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
Strain the resulting liquid into a suitable container and don’t forget this next step. TASTE YOUR STOCK! If it tastes at all watery, then place the liquid back on the stove and reduce it by boiling off some of the liquid. Flavourful stock is what we are looking for.
Let the stock cool in a container before you cover it and store it in the fridge. We keep our stocks for up to 4 days and if we think we won’t use them in time we freeze them. Freezing stock as ice cubes is a great way to have handy amounts on hand to add to sauces. If you have a dog and some left over stock give it to them for a treat. They will absolutely LOVE YOU FOR IT!
Try using your stock in the following ways:
Drink a mug of warmed stock when you return from your windy walk :-)
Use it as the liquid to make your next risotto.
Use it as the liquid to make your next spicy rice.
Add it to your next casserole or stew.
Use it as the base for your next gravy.
Use it to make noodle soup.
Stay tuned for some of the recipes above as we add them. If you'd like to make sure you don't miss them subscribe here and we'll send you loads of cool stuff. ff you’re having a roast chicken today don’t throw the carcass away!
With love from The Strength Temple.