RFNH: Chapter 8 Discussion

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RFNH = “Real Food Nutrition & Health” Study. My children and I are working our way through Kristen Michaelis’ book, Real Food Nutrition and Health, during the fall and winter months as part of our homeschooling curriculum. If you’re following along, or falling behind, no worries! This series will be here for you whenever you’re ready. And even if you’re not quite caught up, feel free to jump in regardless.

Click here to read more about the study and get the proposed schedule, as well as current and past downloadable discussion questions/activities each week — which you can save for the future if you’re not going to participate now.

We’re on Chapter 8: Bone Broths. Click here for Chapter 8’s discussion questions/activities (a free PDF download).

What did you all think of this very short chapter on bone broths? After we were done, my son C. shocked me by asking if we could read more! He enjoys the short ones, I guess. 😉

The kids found the history behind how MSG fascinating. When MSG entered the scene, bone broths took a backseat.

“In 1908, the Japanese invented monosodium glutamate to enhance food flavors, particularly meat-like flavors. … To get those flavors before the invention of MSG, people the world over used bone broths. Now industry had created a way to short cut the lengthy and nourishing process of creating stocks from the bones of beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and fish. They could make food that tasted “just as good” at a fraction of the cost.”

Today, MSG can be found in many, many processed and packaged foods, while nourishing bone broths are almost nowhere to be found in regular venues. MSG goes by many names, and here’s a list for you: Hidden Sources of MSG.

Here’s an example of hidden MSG. For some time now, I have chafed at a certain ingredient being included in The New England Cheesemaking Company’s cultures: malto-dextrin. I knew I didn’t like it; I knew it was processed; but now I know more. Malto-dextrin often contains MSG. Why it is needed in cheese cultures, I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to hear a reason, either.

So, awhile back I decided not to use cultures that contain it. Instead, I use Danisco’s pure cultures, which Cultures for Health recently began carrying at my request (thank you, Julie!).

There are many more surprising examples of MSG; grab this list and hit the store shelves — because presumably none are in your pantry, right? 😉 — to open your eyes to it.

But the main point of the chapter was not just to point out the evils of MSG, but to encourage kids to return to the traditional practice of making and enjoying broth. In addition to being a rich source of minerals and nutrients, the simple addition of vinegar or lemon juice (as we learned in Nourishing Traditions) pulls gelatin out of the bones. The gelatin helps our bodies utilize protein better.

My family really enjoys the subtle flavor from the vinegar. However, I heard from some families in the first round of the Fundamentals eCourse who didn’t enjoy the new-to-them vinegar flavor. Whichever camp you’re in at the moment, the amount of vinegar one adds is flexible. While I tend to use 1/4 cup of vinegar per stockpot, you can use just a tablespoon or two to get the benefits without the vinegar flavor.

My son C. told me at the conclusion to this lesson how much he loves broth. But he specified, “as long as it’s not too salty!” which I have done on occasion. 😉

Before I sign off, let me encourage you that it is almost a no-brainer to have a crockpot or stockpot of broth going several times a week — broth that’s ready to cook grains, add to chowder, add to a soup, make gravy, or even drink straight for a quick pick-me-up! Looking for help? In the Fundamentals eCourse, you can learn how to make nourishing chicken stock along with me!

What are your impressions of this chapter? Do you feel like you could improve in the broth arena? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Check back soon for the discussion questions for chapter 9. Visit the main RFNH post for the schedule, links to other discussion questions, and links to all the blog posts in this series.

GNOWFGLINS will earn a commission on sales of the Real Food Nutrition and Health book through this blog. But honestly, we’d be doing this study whether or not we were associated. Thank you for supporting GNOWFGLINS with your purchase. You should also know I’m very thankful to be undertaking this study with Kristen’s permission.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    Well, I am way behind in reading these Real Food so I will have to go back to the start and pick up what I missed, but I really enjoyed reading about the benefits of bone broth. I did not know that vinegar or lemon juice would help bring out the goodness in the bones, I will put that into practice. Thanks for posting these informative discussions.


  2. says

    I never realized that bone broths were so nutritious. I just knew that I loved the flavor. Coming from a family that economized every which way, I have long preferred bone-in, skin-on chicken or meat with bones just so I could make broth. I freeze it for later use. Substituting broth for part of the water when cooking rice (esp brown rice) or beans (chicken broth only) add a whole new dimension. Now I know WHY it gives such a satisfying flavor!

    And thanks for the head’s up on MSG.

  3. Roberta says

    Another wonderful resource for healthful cooking is Adelle Davis. “Let’s Cook It Right” was published in 1947 and her organic ways and tips still hold true. The calcium pulled out of broth bones with vinegar is great and gentle source for us old folks too. Kids can experiment by cooking one pot of bones without vinegar and one pot of bones with vinegar. You can see the absence of calcium in the bones in the vinegar batch. I use apple cider vinegar, just a few tablespoons. Please, always use organic foods. What is known as “ox tail” is an amazing source of “gelatin” which can be frozen in small batches and added to soups for extra flavor and nutrients. Thank you for teaching our children about whole, organic foods and thereby enhancing our future.
    Roberta in Oregon

  4. Kim says

    I was surprised to read about adding feet, hooves, and skull when making broth!! Does anyone out there really do this? And if so, would you be willing to tell me more??

    It was great to read about the nutritional benefits, especially as it relates to joint health.


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