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“Let food be thy medicine…."

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates is credited with sharing that important teaching and now in modern days, awareness continues to grow about how critical a healthy diet is in protecting your health.

The chefs at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital definitely subscribe to this philosophy. They work every day to develop healthy, delicious dishes, using fresh herbs, greens and other produce from our on-site hospital greenhouse whenever possible.

Henry ford West Bloomfield chefs smiling in kitchen
Hospital chefs (left to right) Brad Roberts, Rob Hindley and Denis DeFrancesco put their love and expertise into creating the nutrient-dense consommé.

One of our hospital chefs in particular, Denis DeFrancesco, who serves as the kitchen’s saucier, is instrumental in ensuring that surgical patients -- who are typically on a restricted “clear-liquids only” diet before and after surgery -- receive a healthy broth that is literally brimming with healing, nutritious ingredients.

Broth, also referred to as bone broth or simply “stock,” is currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts. Bon Appetit magazine says that broth is “almost too hip for its own good.” And the New York Times calls it “a prehistoric food” that has become trendy, combining mystical connections to the ancient world and demonstrable nutrition benefits in the modern one.

As the key architect of the hospital’s healing broth, Chef Denis reveals his motivation: "For some of these folks, this is the only food they will get that day, so it better taste good and be full of nutrition!" Our broth includes glucosamine, calcium, and other trace minerals thanks to the beef or chicken bones that are simmered in water to create the stock. The gelatin in the broth is the cooked form of collagen, which provides glycine, an amino acid which promotes healthy cartilage.

Cup of bone broth soup being poured from silver ladle

Creating our special broth takes all day and includes several complicated steps, including the addition of mineral-rich ingredients (egg whites, crushed egg shells, ground chicken parts and vegetables), which provide antioxidants and reduce inflammation. Herbs and spices are also added, including fresh ginger, which helps to soothe the gut. Later in the process the solid materials are strained away, leaving just the nutrient-dense, clear broth that is served to patients.

This broth-making process is so time-consuming that most fine restaurants no longer make their broth this way. But our hospital chefs, like the healers before them, know that this is part of our patients' "medicine," diligently investing their time and expertise to contribute to the unique healing environment at Henry Ford West Bloomfield.

Interested in making your own healthy bone broth at home? An internet search will yield a variety of recipes and techniques. One simple recipe recommended by our hospital dietitians is from www.allrecipes.com:

Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 pounds beef bones
  • 6 cups cool water, or as needed
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a roasting pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread tomato paste onto beef bones and place in the prepared roasting pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until bones begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer bones to a slow cooker and pour in enough water to cover bones. Add onions, carrots, garlic and bay leaves to broth mixture.
  5. Cook on Low for at least 24 hours.
  6. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a container and refrigerate.

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