Long before the bone broth craze took hold, La Jolla native Quinn Farrar Wilson was drinking the nutritious elixir. Now the North Park resident and founder of Balanced and Bright has written a book to chronicle her experiences, provide insight into what bone broth is, and offer recipes so readers can make it at home.
Drinking bone broth — a simmered broth made from animal bones, vegetables and herbs — is a longstanding practice that has picked up steam in recent years.
Those who swear by it, including Wilson, say the bone broth helps everything from stomach sensitivity to calcium deficiency. By simmering the broth, typically for a few days, “all the vitamins, minerals, collagen and calcium in the bones breaks down and goes into the broth,” she said (not to mention the comforting, filling feeling that comes from drinking it).
For Wilson, a La Jolla High School graduate, after she started drinking the broth, she noticed several changes in her body.
“The first thing I noticed was that the skin on my hands changed,” she said. Further, the damage to her teeth caused by a skiing accident when she was 10 started to repair.
“After the accident, I was losing my teeth and I had a bone grafting surgery and I was in pain for months after that. It was dental hell,” she said. “Once I started drinking bone broth, the pain went away and soon after all my X-rays showed the bone tissue in my jaw and teeth was super strong and super healthy.”
She added that she “always had a sensitive stomach,” but after six months of drinking bone broth, “I noticed some stomach problems lessened, after eight months they were gone.”
Although it worked for Wilson, nutrition professionals are not certain whether bone broth is a “superfood” or a “cure-all.” Christine Zoumas, director of the Healthy Eating Program at Moores Cancer Center out of UC San Diego, said there are nutritional benefits, but not necessarily to the extent people think.
“Bone broth is not too different from a soup stock, it can be healthy because its low in sodium because you’re making it yourself (so you can control the salt levels) and if it has vegetables, the nutritional content of those vegetables gets into that broth. It can be a really good meal,” she said. “Plus, it has lot of volume with little calories.” Zoumas also said any time people make their own food, it makes them more aware of their produce choices.
But she added that one of the broth’s “selling points” is that by drinking something collagen rich, it goes directly into the body as collagen, but this claim is not supported by science. “When you consume something with collagen, it is digested into amino acids and then your body gets to choose how to use those amino acids. It could become something else your body needs because amino acids are the building blocks for protein, which can be turned into enzymes, body tissue, something for your immune system, whatever your body needs,” she said. “But so can many other foods.”
For those who want to try it for themselves, Wilson founded Balanced and Bright to produce and sell bone broth. However, to expand facilities, she has postponed distribution until January. In the meantime, her website — balancedandbright.com — provides tips for making bone broth at home.
In addition to making bone broth, her company also makes a bone broth tea that can be served at breakfast.
“Depending on how you make it, you can flavor it however you want. It can taste like ginger (how I like it) or like a chicken soup broth,” she said. Bone broth can be consumed hot or cold, or as a substitute in a recipe that calls for stock or broth.
“It’s an arduous task to make,” she said, pointing out that it takes about three days to simmer, strain, cool, simmer, strain and cool again — all the while separating any fat that might rise to the surface. “But it makes your whole house smell like broth!” she said.
While the bones can come from any animal, Wilson said the most important thing is to use organic and pastured animal bones, and recommends Homegrown Meats in La Jolla as a supplier.
Wilson is self-taught in the realm of “food as medicine,” she said, and she embarked on this new path in 2008. She founded Quintessential Cooking to teach others how to use locally sourced ingredients, and worked for Urban Core to teach children about nutritious food. Now she can add author toher list of accomplishments.
Wilson’s book, “Bone Broth: Essential recipes and age-old remedies to heal your body,” will be available in January 2016 at balancedandbright.com and amazon.com