Optimal Foods For Physical Fitness (Plus 3 Recipes)

by Sarah Affiliate linksBone broth, Stock, and Soups, Fitness, Gluten and Grain Free, Main Course, RecipesComments: 43

By Fitness Editor Paula Jager, CSCS

As a fitness professional, I have found homemade bone broths to be a great source of protein elements not found in the typical consumption of primarily “muscle meats” sought by most exercise enthusiasts. Many people seek to eat only boneless, skinless (and tasteless) chicken breasts while ignoring the rest of the animal.

Properly prepared stocks are extremely nutritious and beneficial to fitness goals as they contain copious minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is very easy for our body to assimilate.

We go to great lengths in our training efforts to perform intense weight lifting and metabolic conditioning. We log our progress and track our successes but when it comes to nutrition many of us fall short.

We look to fulfill our nutritional needs with processed protein powders filled with chemicals and additives, packaged and processed foods or nutrients in a pill.

True nutrition is found in nature, not in a package. Why people keep trying to go against and defy this basic nutritional truth I have not figured out. There is no substitute for whole foods.

The wise fitness trainee uses gelatin-rich broth on a frequent basis to provide continuous protection from many health problems, better recuperative abilities and as an invaluable aid to the body in more fully utilizing the complete proteins taken in.

My mother made wonderful homemade chicken and beef soups which I enjoyed while growing up. I had gotten away from homemade stocks in my 20-40’s and started making them again about 5 years ago after finding the Weston A. Price Foundation and meeting Sarah.

The one stock I had never tried and some people seem to shy away from is fish stock. This has become one of my very favorites and my husband and I consume it almost on a weekly basis in many delicious chowders and sauces. The following excerpt is from Nourishing Traditions. . .

Another traditional belief is that fish head broth contributes to virility. Fish stock, made from the carcasses and heads of fish is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Even more important, stock made from the heads and therefore the thyroid glands of the fish, supplies thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland.

According to some researchers, al least 40% of all Americans suffer from a deficiency of the thyroid gland with its accompanying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, frequent colds and flu’s, inability to concentrate, depression and a lot of more serious complications like heart disease and cancer. We would do well to imitate our brothers from the Mediterranean and Asian regions by including fish broth in the diet.”

I find consuming foods with fish stock very rejuvenating, giving me more energy and restoring mental abilities. I have noticed after having fish chowder in the evening I sleep incredibly well that night. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

One of the secrets is to start with quality ingredients. Anyone living in coastal areas should be fortunate enough to have a friend or relative that fishes. Simply have them save you the heads and carcasses of the fish they catch and freeze until you are ready to use. If not, your local fish market should be willing to do the same.

Here are some of my favorite recipes. . .

Primal Fish Stock

3-4 fish carcasses + heads, gills removed
2 tbs raw butter
2 onions coarsely chopped
1 carrot coarsely chopped
1 rib celery coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
2-3 quarts pure, cold water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or 1 lemon sliced.
*bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf, several sprigs parsley,
3 sprigs fresh thyme, 5-6 black peppercorns

Melt butter in large stainless steel saucepan and cook veggies covered over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the fish carcasses and heads, cover and cook for additional 5 minutes or until slightly opaque. If using the wine add to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover with the cold water. Add the vinegar or lemon to the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off (with a slotted spoon) any foam or scum that rises to the top. Add the bouquet garni; cover partially, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours.

When stock is done, strain broth through cheesecloth lining a large colander. Cool, store in airtight Mason jars in either the refrigerator or freezer depending on when you will use.

*to make a bouquet garni: simply tie up the desired herbs/spices in a small portion of cheesecloth with cotton string

What to do with your stock? Try these recipes and remember the magic is in the stock. . .

Bahaman Style Conch Chowder

2 tbs butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small sweet potato, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 quart fish stock (homemade is best)
1 lb conch, ground or chopped*
1 tbs apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized)
6 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Het the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sauté the onion, celery, carrots, pepper, potato, thyme, red pepper, allspice and bay leaver for 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil; immediately lower to a simmer.  Add the conch and cook for 35 minutes, uncovered.  Add the vinegar, parsley, scallions, sea salt and cayenne and simmer for 5 more minutes.

*I first pounded the conch with a meat mallet as it can be tough, then chopped with a sharp knife.

And for the main course. . .

Crawfish Etouffee

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 lb crawfish tails
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
Crystal to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup fish stock
3/4 tbs arrowroot powder
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup raw cream, optional
Hot cooked cauliflower, finely chopped

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic stirring constantly for 5 mins.  Stir in tomato, sea salt, black pepper, thyme, onion powder, white pepper, cayenne, hot sauce and crawfish, cook 5 minutes.  Stir in arrowroot powder and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Stir in fish stock gradually and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in green onion and parsley and cook 3 minutes. Take off heat and stir in cream if using.   Serve over hot cooked chopped cauliflower.  An excellent and much healthier substitute for grits or rice!

Oh but it is delicious over grits. Aaaagh! That’s a grain isn’t it–shame on Primal girl? Soak the grits in lime water before preparing if usingïŠ


Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar in Tampa, FL

Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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