13 February 2017

Health-minded kitchen promotes power of bone broth

Healthy ingredients are essential for broth bowls at both Glo Kitchen locations.
Healthy ingredients are essential for broth bowls at both Glo Kitchen locations.

Bone broth is something of a nutrition craze, prized for being dense with nutrients and a boost for digestion.

Is it "Jewish penicillin" or ancient Chinese medicine?

Both, says Shirley So, CEO of Glo Kitchen and Fitness. So has been researching the topic after noticing that bone broth is not promoted as much in China as elsewhere, despite having deep cultural roots here.

Made from animal parts including bones, marrow, skin and feet, tendons and ligaments, bone broth is inherently consoling and nurturing. It's the chicken soup that is every Jewish mother's cure-all, but old cultures everywhere turn to such slow-simmered broth for its restorative powers.

As the new year starts, Glo is pulling together a lot of restorative power. The company's latest opening in Beijing's Wanda Plaza is right next door to Raw Fitness, a shiny-new gym and cross-fit training center with a holistic bent. The companies are not a joint venture but complementary enterprises, says Raw's CEO Jason Wang.

"It fits our idea of building a fitness community," he says. "People can come together, have a workout that's tailored to their needs, and enjoy healthy meals and snacks before or after the workout."

His team at Raw is already planning expansion, and they envision a Glo Kitchen at their new sites as well.

The new Glo at Wanda Plaza is the second in the budding restaurant group. The original is not far away, at Guanghua Lu Soho, but on a less ambitious scale.

"I wanted bone broth to be the focus of the hot food dishes," says consulting chef Brandon Trowbridge, "since our original concept was built on salads."

For this month's soft opening, there is a 36-hour chicken-ginseng broth, a 48-hour beef-bone broth, and a mushroom-vegetable broth. Besides being cooked for up to two days with bones and marrow, the broths incorporate vegetables, herbs and vinegar to release minerals, collagen and essential nutrients, says So.

"However," she adds, "out on the market most soups are made with MSG and a lot of additives to make it taste better, whether it's the instant soup powder you can buy in the store or the cooked one in the restaurant."

Why does it matter?

So cites six reasons that nutrition experts say drinking properly made bone broth can be beneficial:

・ Heal and seal your gut: The gelatin in the bone broth (found in the knuckles, feet, and other joints) helps seal up holes in intestines. This helps cure chronic diarrhea, constipation, and even some food intolerances.

・ Protect your joints: Glucosamine supplements to help with joint pain have been common for years, but it turns out that bone broth has glucosamine too. A good broth also includes a host of other elements that promote healthy joints, especially for those who run and lift weights.

・ Look younger: Bone broth is a rich source of collagen, which can make skin, hair and nails look radiant.

・ Sleep better: The glycine in bone broth has been shown in several studies to help people sleep better and improve memory.

・ Immune support: A Harvard study showed that some people with auto-immune disorders experienced relief of symptoms when drinking bone broth.

・ Stronger bones: The phosphorus, magnesium and calcium in the bones seep out into the broth, providing the essential building blocks for healthy bones.

The shared space of Glo and Raw spans over 3,000 square meters and three floors, designed to be a one-stop shop for active healthy living. The mantra of the food-and-fitness community under the shared roof is "Eat. Train. Love." Another sign posted at the entrance to Raw Fitness says, "Be stronger than your excuses." The kitchen team at Glo, however, seems determined to take any sense of sacrifice out of healthy eating.

So says the goal is "a delicious menu is designed to maximize nutritional values."

That means thinking way beyond sprouts and granola. Besides healthy broths and salads, there is Dark Power, a smoothie made with activated charcoal, black sesame, banana, almond milk and dates. There are bento bowls with steak and avocado and with tilapia. There are probiotic sodas, Bulletproof coffee and "power bowls" loaded with spicy miso steak and buckwheat noodles or tamarind-chicken rice noodle. There are nutritious smoothies, desserts like chia mango coconut pudding, and healthy nut butters.

"In the gym, we preach that fitness is 40 percent about exercise and 60 percent about food," says Wang. "So for people to stick with it long-term, food has to be more than good for you. It has to be simply good, too."

If you go

Glo Kitchen and Raw Fitness

1/F, Bldg 7, Wanda Plaza, 97 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5820-6269. Glo 1: Guanghua Lu Soho I, 22 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang district. 010-5385-4960.

Chicken bone broth Ingredients:

1 free-range chicken (misc. chicken bones, chicken feet, neck)

2 small onions or shallots

1 head of garlic

1 tsp peppercorns

1-2 bay leaves

2 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 quarts filtered water

1 bunch of fresh organic herbs

To make:

Put all the broth ingredients in a large stock pot and let sit for an hour. Bring to a boil and get rid of any foam that rises to the top. Cook on a very low flame for 8-12 hours. Let cool. Separate the meat (if any) from the bones. Strain the broth.

Wash the fresh organic herbs well. Warm up a serving of strained broth to desired temperature (do not boil). Put your serving of broth and a large handful of herbs (for extra minerals and taste) and enjoy.

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