Bone broth: magic in a mug

When I discuss nutrition with my singing students, I often start by showing a YouTube video series by Michael Barnes, the lead singer of heavy metal band Red. It is striking that, before hard-rocking Barnes will even start to discuss technique, he urges singers to do three things: get a good night’s sleep, stay hydrated and follow a healthy diet.

His advice is sound: singers place great physical demands on their bodies, in much the same way that athletes do, which is why their approach to nutrition should be no different to that of a professional sportsperson. Admittedly, a singer’s focus falls on finer, more delicate parts of the body, rather than big muscle groups, but the principle is the same: good health is key to peak performance.

Bone broth, packed with vitamins, minerals, collagen and protein, is a great place to start for any singer looking to improve their diet. For me, it is a magical elixir that, consumed regularly, can improve gut health, brighten the skin and alleviate joint pain.
For centuries, people all over the world have been nourished and restored by the properties of a good bone broth. It is simple and economical to make; all you need are some bones, some water and a pot. Vegetables give added depth and flavour.
I tend to save up two or three carcasses from rotisserie roast chickens or bones from roast dinners. I put them in a bag in the freezer and add to it. Alternatively, ask your butcher for stock bones, which are often extremely good value.

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • A roasting tray full of bones (chicken or beef)
  • 1-2 onions, cut in half
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • optional extras: 1 tbsp salt, a few whole peppercorns, a handful of herbs such as parsley or rosemary.

Directions:

First, roast the bones in a hot oven for 30 minutes. This adds colour and flavour.

Next, place the bones and vegetables in a large stock pot or slow cooker. Cover them with water, approximately 2 litres. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and allow to simmer very gently for 4 to 24 hours.

Skim off any foam sitting on the surface. Leave the stock to cool for about an hour.

Once cool, strain the liquid and discard the bones and vegetables. Divide the broth between 3 to 4 containers and store in the fridge or freezer, ready to use whenever you need them. Your broth will keep for one week in the fridge, and six months in the freezer.
Three delicious ways to add bone broth to your diet:

Simply drink it! Take a thermos flask with you on-the-go or have a nice, warm mug-full several times a day for a healthy boost of energy.

Use the broth to cook any grains, such as quinoa, rice or cous cous. The grains will soak up the nutrition as well as the flavour.

Use it as a base for sauces, soups, stews, casseroles and risottos.

Becky’s nutrition tips

  1. Drink lots of water. (I aim for 3 litres a day). Drink
    extra water the day before a gig to allow time for the hydration to take effect.
  2. Cut down or cut out caffeine: it dehydrates the vocal cords.
  3. Cut down or cut out sugar: sugar contains no health benefits, but causes our livers to store fat and can lead to a whole host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  4. Eat foods high in minerals and anti-oxidants such as berries, greens, beans, nuts and dark chocolate (although make sure you buy a brand which is low in sugar).
  5. Get enough protein: protein makes up the building blocks of our bodies and getting an adequate amount will help repair muscle fibres. Aim for every meal or snack to be composed of at least a third protein. And don’t worry if you are vegetarian – there are some excellent sources of protein in beans, nuts, quinoa, buckwheat and soy.

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Becky Gilhespie is an American vocal coach and food writer based in Sydney, Australia. Becky trained her own voice and taught singing in London for 10 years, before relocating to Australia in 2015. It was while living in London that her passion for food was ignited and she reached the semi-finals of Masterchef. Becky has never desired to take up cooking full time because she loves her job working in music so much. She enjoys helping students overcome barriers to their singing, and teaching them about the importance of having a solid technique and a healthy mindset.