Stock is….amazing. Not only does it make soups, rice, and quinoa better, elevating the taste in seconds, but it packs a major nutritional punch, too. With cold season upon us, keeping yourself stocked on healing, immunity boosting foods is essential, especially if you have kiddos!

This is a great place to use up all sorts of veggie scraps. Onion peels, leek ends, beet and carrot greens – every time you have some veggie “junk”, toss it in a zip lock and then into the freezer to save for when you make stock. You can, certainly, make just veggie stock, but for serious healing benefits, I highly recommend some sort of bones in there, too. One of my favorite ways to do this is to simply purchase a whole chicken, oven roast it for dinner one night, pull the extra meat off to save for leftovers, and then toss the carcass (and giblets, if you have them!) into your pot to start your stock overnight. You’ll wake up to one of the most heavenly, homey, and comforting aromas you’ll ever meet.

I hear you – “What!? Leave my stove on all night?! Is that safe?” Here’s my next game-changing tip. Stock should be simmered low and slow for a loooooooooong time. Unfortunately, when you do this on the stove, you often need to monitor it for safety, AND it tends to reduce quite a bit as steam escapes, leaving you will significantly less liquid than you started with. BUT! If you use a slow cooker….yep, that’s right, I make my stock in the slow cooker. I start it the night before, leave it on low all night, wake up to that heavenly scent, and then sometime in the late afternoon, turn it off to cool before straining and portioning for the freezer.

The collagen, bone marrow, and vitamin D and calcium from bones provides extra nutrients and gut healing, which is why I really recommend you add some chicken/beef/fish/combo bones.

Homemade Healing Stock

makes about 8-10 cups, depending on the size of your crockpot

Lots of veggies (onion, carrot, celery, leeks, beet greens, turnips, parsnips, herbs), like filling at least half the crockpot with them

Bones (chicken carcass, beef marrow bones, fish bones, pheasant carcass, etc)

Water, up to about the top, like an inch from the of the crockpot

Start the crockpot. On Low. Let it go for 12-24 hours. Cool a bit. Strain into 2-3 cup containers. Cool completely. Freeze. Enjoy the health.

Aubrey Phelps, MS, RDN, LDN