Mixing fruit, turmeric and even chocolate with meat or vegetable broth is proving popular among the health-conscious.
Bone broth: before acquiring superfood status, the warm savoury liquid had long been equated with light, soothing soups and flavourful sauces. Then, a few years ago, celebrities started to swear by it and companies started serving ready-made varieties.
The popularity of bone broth, which is made from boiling bones and offal, is down to its numerous health benefits. “It’s packed with nutrients that are not necessarily abundant in our everyday diets, including collagen and glucosamine, which are highly beneficial for joint health. Other benefits include an increase in immunity and additional detoxification,” explains Stacey Sharp, a Stott Pilates teacher, nutritionist and founder of RetreatMi.com. “It is also a good source of gelatin, a potent protein that has benefits for the gut, hair, nails and skin.”
According to food delivery service Deliveroo, the interest in high-protein, low-carb lifestyles have piqued interest worldwide, with sales increasing by up to 75 per cent in markets such as the UK and Netherlands, over the past year. The UAE, meanwhile, has seen a 50 per cent increase in the sale of bone broth over the past year.
Studies recommend consuming a cup a day, although that depends on one’s activity levels, adds Sharp. As more people hop on board the broth bandwagon, some are finding rather innovative ways to incorporate it into their diets. Enter brothies or bone broth smoothies – a colourful blend of the broth with fruits, spices and even chocolate, that’s recently been taking over kitchen counters and social media feeds.
“Having broth in the morning is a great way to kick-start your day, but not everyone can handle a bowl of broth as the first thing they have,” says Hadil Al Khatib of The Broth Lab in Dubai. A “one-stop-shop for all things broth”, now including brothies, was started under the parent company, The Roost Rotisserie, when Al Khatib realised that most people didn’t have time to prepare bone broth, which can take as long as 12 hours of simmering.
“The notion of adding collagen powder to your morning smoothie is not new,” adds Al Khatib. “But a lot of negative side effects have been spoken about when it comes to the consumption of some commercial powdered forms of collagen. So it makes sense to take in collagen through bone broth smoothies. Brothies make it easy for those who want to have it in different forms that can be consumed at any time of the day.”
Al Khatib says the reaction to the sweet-and-savoury drink has been positive so far. Some of The Broth Lab’s bestselling flavours include turmeric brothie (with mango and ginger), berry brothie (with strawberries, blueberries and chia seeds), green brothie (with green apple, spinach and almond milk), and Choco-Fee (with espresso coffee, unsweetened dark cocoa powder, cardamom, cinnamon, orange and dates).
“Honestly, at first, I did think that this would be weird,” admits Al Khatib. “I wasn’t sure what to think of mixing sweet fruit flavours and strong superfoods with the savoury taste of freshly produced bone broth. But from the very first sip, I fell in love.”
Already there has been a demand for “vegan” brothies, which Deliveroo credits largely to Veganuary. Although a vegan bone broth sounds like something of an oxymoron, vegetarian broth or vegetable stock can be made using ingredients such as mushrooms or seaweed.
“The only difference between vegan brothies and the regular type would be the collagen; you can’t get collagen from vegetable products as this is an animal product. However, the consumption of collagen is a little bit of a contentious issue anyway, as it is a nutrient we don’t actually ingest; it’s merely broken down in to its molecular amino acids in the gut and it’s actually our body that produces the collagen. So, as long as you are getting all of your essential amino acids through your vegetarian or vegan option, the benefits would be the same,” says Sharp.
However, Dean Henry, co-founder of The Clean Living Company, which was among the first to bring bone broth to the UAE, believes the difference between the regular and vegan option is substantial. “As a company, we get testimonials about how someone’s skin is better or nails are growing stronger [after consuming bone broth], but with the seaweed broth, we didn’t get any of that,” says Henry. “In theory it should have helped, but it was just vegetable soup.”
The Clean Living Company does not sell brothies (or seaweed broth anymore), but Henry, who is also a functional medical health coach, is already a fan. “I know a lot of people are sceptical because they think it will have a meaty flavour, but that’s more of a mental block,” he explains. “A good bone broth shouldn’t have a meaty taste anyway. If anything, it enhances the sweetness of the smoothie and makes it creamier.”