Conversations: Jason Van Oijen, the Champion Thai Boxer

 I met Jason on one of his regular trips to New York City before eventually moving to the city. Jason is from the Netherlands, and he visited NYC often for work. He is a champion Thai boxer, a fashion and fitness model, and a fitness trainer. On his visits, he would stay at the apartment of one of my private yoga clients, and he would join in the sessions. I instantly became aware that Jason is a very intelligent and conscientious man. He is highly perceptive, attentive to detail in everything he does, but also capable of maintaining a sense of ´the larger picture´. His approach to eating is, naturally, integrative.

Jason and I share a similar painful and eye-opening experience: our mothers passed awayafter long battles with cancer. That experience made us change the way that we perceive life, wellbeing, and self-care.

Here Jason shares some of what he has learned both through research and experimentation with eating for health, and for extreme performance. He also talks about his view on the food industry at large.

BD&H- How did you get started with boxing? Tell us about your background?

JVO- I have been training since I was 6 years old. I wanted to play soccer but my mom said ¨you can do judo first, you have to learn how to fall, and learn self-defense.¨ I did that for 6 years, then I started karate, then thai boxing...When I first started competing, I was 18 years old.

BD&H- Can you share about your dietary habits early in your career?

JVO- What I did back then for diet, was eating mostly potatoes, vegetables, meat, and a lot of bread, but the sources of our food in Holland have always been more honest. People´s metabolisms are different in Holland because they have a very different food industry from the food industry in America. I think the food industry here in America is all corn-based. Even if you are not eating corn, if you eat meat, chances are that the meat you are eating is corn-fed, so the source comes down to corn.  

Back then I was following a very low fat diet, mostly focused on cutting all the fat out. Later on when I moved to NY, I started looking for different diets to try out. For the past year I have settled for basically the exact opposite. I follow a really high fat diet, a lot of fat and basically no sugar, so I changed the sensitivity of my insulin. With my previous diet, I would be eating all the time: 3 meals and 3 snacks. It was all healthy food, but I was constantly giving my blood sugar a little boost to not crash. Later on, I learned that that is one way of maintaining your blood sugar levels, but its not good for your body. Your body needs fat and fat is a much more efficient fuel. One gram of fat contains much more energy than sugar, and it´s much more sustainable. The main thing I do now is that I only have 3 meals. My meals are very high in quality fat, natural fat like butter, full fat yogurt, and well-raised meats. I used to take the leanest meats, now I take the more fatty cuts. 

The food industry is run by sugar industries, even in schools. That really bothers me. All of these big companies are programming kids to buy their products. What they do is that they sell everyone on the idea of calories and calories are a very misunderstood principle. They made everything low fat, and sold us on the idea that that is good for us, putting sugar in everything to replace the lack of flavor, because fat makes food flavorful. Now everyone eats sugar, sugar, sugar, and everyone is diabetic and their insulin production is so insensitive that they constantly have to snack.

These days if I skip a meal, I don´t feel too hungry, I don´t crash. If I were to take sugar now, I would not take it before a workout. If I have sugar, I would only have it later at night because if I have it before working out, I am training my body to use the sugar as my fuel. 

BD&H- Just to clarify, when you say sugar, you mean all carbohydrate? Sometimes when we say sugar, for many people the image of powedered cane sugar, or candy, first comes to mind. To clarify, when you say sugar,   you´re talking about all forms of carbohydrate?

Anything that affects your insulin levels, even fruit. I barely eat fruit. Sometimes I do, when I finish a workout, or in moderation. I don´t eat root vegetables either. For vegetables, I eat everything that grows above the ground, like leafy greens. If I finish a workout and feel really weak, I will eat a couple of strawberries, but together with a source of protein and a source of fat, to balance out my macronutrients. 

If I train twice a day, for 6 days in a row, my usual protein intake is not enough. On those times, I take a protein shake, which is not natural, and not what I like to do. A food that I recently discovered, is sheep´s milk yogurt. Sheep milk is very close to human milk, and its very anti-inflammatory. It also absorbs very quickly in the body´, as opposed to cows milk. It is high in fat, so it´s a great option.

BD&H- Can you walk us through a typical day, in your diet, and your workouts?

When I wake up I drink a glass of warm water with apple cider vinegar, lemon and half a bottle of kombucha. I like to consume a lot of fermented foods. For breakfast I have pickles, sauerkraut, bacon, some eggs usually sunny side up, leafy greens, avocado and that’s´ it. Avocado does have carbs, but it takes a lot for your body to break it down into sugars, because it has a lot of healthy fat as well. I love coffee, so I have one espresso, but when I have my espresso, I put coconut cream in it. 

Lunch is often difficult for me because I´m usually out away from home. I try to go somewhere where the food is made with attention to good quality ingredients, but places like are not easy to find. Honestly, sometimes I skip lunch or I just have some yogurt and some macadamia nuts or other fatty nuts.

For dinner, I have a rib-eye steak, broccoli, and cauliflower. I eat a lot of red meat, I eat fish, but not too much chicken.  Occasionally, if I do eat chicken, I favor the parts that most people avoid: I eat the dark meat and the skin.

Also, another different thing I do now is that I eat organ meats every week.

As far as workouts, when I´m not preparing for a fight, and I´m training just for maintenance, I don´ t focus so much on when I´m training. When I´m preparing for a fight, I prefer to do my weight bearing workout later in the day,. In that way, I can have some sugar for recovery afterwards, without  using it for energy later on. It´s best to do cardio in the morning on an emply stomach to target fat burning. I take BCAA´s, especially lucine (BCAA = amino acid powder), to really target the fat burning process.


 All of this requires a lot of time and effort on your part. You must spend a lot of time on your own preparing food?

JVO- I've always cooked my own meals, and I cook for my dog, too. I think that I´m a pretty fast and simple cook. I sometimes go to Foragers because they have good locally sourced prepared foods. 

BD&H- Traveling and trying to maintain your diet must be challenging, too?

You can always go as healthy as possible. You cant always find organic, of course. You can usually always find a steak. I was in Curacao recently, and I saw that the kitchen at the hotel was preparing my eggs in oil, so I walked in and took some butter from the bread department, and asked them to fry my egg in the butter! 

What I worry about most, is that you can make the healthiest choices, but you never know about the oils and salts they use. Most places cut costs by using canola or cheaper oils.

The trick is not to eat out too much, and to chose the restaurants that you know are well aware of what real food is. One of the ways to know if a restaurant values real foods, is if they make their own stocks. If they do, you know they care enough, they make an effort. 

BD&H- Recently, we have spoken with athletes who have shared similar approaches to food and eating. It seems that all this information on low carbohydrate and high fat and protein diets has been quickly picked-up by those interested in optimal physical performance.  However these ideas are starting to show up more and more in mainstream media. I´m interested in knowing where you source your information?

Well, obviously on the internet. Mark´s Daily Apple has an article about how to become fat adaptive. Same with the Ketosis Diet, or the South Beach Diet. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to adjust to not take sugar as your fuel. For that time, you are not going to have a lot of energy. 

There are also 2 books written by Dr. Cate Shanahan:  Deep Nutrition and Food Rules that teach how to repair your metabolism.

A friend of mine is a reporter for sports and was a bit overweight. She told me “man, I´m eating all these delicious fatty foods and losing weight.¨ She knew Dr. Shanahan very well and so I had a couple of phone calls with her. When I started doing this, and training really hard, I was getting really tired. I called Dr. Shanahan again, and she told me that she also consults with the Lakers, who had a similar experience. She advised me to have low-glycemic fruit like strawberries after my workouts.

She also told me that other acceptable sugary post-workout snacks are  canolis. This is because they are fatty, and high in protein so they have slow and fast carbs. If you know that they are prepared with good quality ingredients, its perfect! I certainly started enjoying my workouts a little more then. I started gaining more muscle though, when I introduced some sugars back into my diet, which is not what I need, so I stopped. 

BD&H-How do you feel about supplements?

JVO- I think supplements are quite good, as well. There are just a few that I find essential:  one is fish oil, the other probiotics, and also resveratrol. For someone who trains a lot, a multivitamin, and maybe extra Vitamin D would be good. 

BD&H- Can you share about what happens when you are preparing for a big fight?

JVO- My weight hovers usually around 190-200lbs. For my next fight, for example, I have to be at 175lbs in two months. I have to loose about 25lbs, but I can´ t lose strength. This requires dieting smart, and of course training smart. Before, I used to focus on slow carbs, but a constant intake of carbs, and keeping my metabolism going that way. Now, on very few occasions, when I do a very heavy workout, I have a sweet potato. That´s more following in the guidelines of a Paleo Diet.

The other thing that I try to do, is to increase salt intake. Sugars hold a lot of water, so if I´m not eating any sugars, I have to increase my salt intake. Salt is also good for proper hormonal balance, for your thyroid, and for proper hydration.

When I weigh-in for fights, I´m basically dehydrated. For a week before I weigh-in, I take too much water. Then I stop drinking water for the last few days, but I´m still peeing, so I´m loosing weight. For that week, I don't eat sugar or salt and I go down in muscle and body fat. If I have more weight to lose, I go in the sauna. When I´m in there, I can barely speak, I´m so dehydrated, it´s terrible! That´s harder than the fight itself. Then, after I weigh in, the race to gaining as much weight as possible in 24 hours begins. It takes me 3 months to drop 25 lbs and then I have to put that weight back in, in 24 hours. 

BD&H- How do you feel after doing that?

Incredible! I feel so great because I had been so dehydrated and deprived, and all of a sudden I can eat whatever I want. What I do every hour that I´m awake, I drink a liter of water. Then I mix that with a very high carb diet and protein.

BD&H- How has your body sustained this over time, especially after having taken it to those extremes many times around?

JVO- Well, I've had one time when I got really, really sick. I did it the wrong way. I started too early doing workouts in sweat suits. I got too dehydrated and drained myself with physical exercise, and actually came into the weigh-in too heavy. They said I had an hour to lose the weight, that I should jump rope. That time I said okay, I´m not fighting. 

BD&H- How about psychologically, how do you deal while you´re in the middle of that process? How do you stay focus to give up?

I guess that everything I make up my mind to do, I do. I am very strong minded, strong-willed, and I won't give in. Also, I know I have to go on that scale, so if I give in, I have to lose the weight again, and that´s not fun! Especially if I already have no water in my body, I don´t want to make that process longer! 

BD&H- You´ve done this many times already. What differences do you notice as you age?

JVO- I don´ t think this has to do with age, but I´m different now because I didn´t do any strength training in the past. My weight before I did strength training was about 185, now it is about 195, so its 10lbs more of muscle.

What I have noticed now is that I take longer to recover from injuries. I am 31. I also notice that I don´ t need as much food anymore. I can eat less now, but that´s also because of my diet. The thing is, though, once you stop this diet and start eating sugars again, you will gain weight, especially if you are eating it with the wrong kind of fat. 

BD&H- How has this diet impacted other rhythms that the body has, like sleep and digestion?

JVO- I am sleeping much better than before, really. I don´ t know if it´s because of the diet, but I sleep very good now!

Whenever I go back to Holland, I go to the doctor and do a full blood check. When I visited before I went on this diet, doctors told me that my cholesterol was ok, but my liver was over-functioning. They said there were all these little things, not a big problem, but my liver wasn´t functioning optimally. When I went back after I started eating differently, adding more and more fat, my doctors were shocked! All of my numbers were 100% good and they couldn't believe i wasn't taking any medicine.


My dad was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about 5 years ago. In a way, it was the best thing that happened to him. He made a complete turn around - changed his diet, started eating very low glycemic foods. He lost a lof of weight, but more interestingly, his whole disposition shifted. He looks younger, he’s much calmer. After years of eating minimal carbohydrates, he has added some slow-assimilated carbohydrates back to his diet without any adverse effects.

JVO- And he should! You should eat some carbs, because you don´ t want to mess up your ketones, but there are many carbs, for instance avocado, that is 30g of carbohydrate, but completely different than eating a sugar cube. 

BD&H- Your diet is also very strategically designed for top physical performance in your sport, what do you think about how it would work for a regular person who does not exert themselves as much?

JVO- Well, even for people in a profession where they just use their brain more than the rest of their body, fat is better for the brain. More importantly, this diet is low in foods that cause inflammation, which is the root of disease including cancer. When I first started looking into different types of diets, my mom was sick. We started looking into ways to reduce inflammation. I was impressed to see how at the hospital, they used sugar infused water with a bright color to locate the cancer, so they could see it because the cancer latches on to the sugar. Right then I thought that if we kept the inflammation down in the body, without feeding it sugar, we could prevent getting sicker.

Inflammation can also result from eating the wrong types of fat. I have one client who has an imbalanced stomach acid problem. He is Pakistani, and he tells me that in his culture, they use vegetable oils in everything.

BD&H- Do you eat only organic foods?

I try. People complain that eating organic is too expensive. It´s true but I once read about a doctor saying  ¨ Dont count the $ amount you are buying, but count the nutritional value, ´it will actually be cheaper.¨  Its a good selling point!

BD&H- Lastly, you mentioned that you drink coffee, kombucha, and water. Do you drink alcohol?

I like tequila. Usually, after I fight, I get drunk for a week and then I´m done with drinking alcohol. 

Thank you Jason!

Conversations: Keith Curbow, the Resilient Trumpeter

Keith Ram Prakash Curbow might just be one of the most inspirational people we've ever met. Keith, a type-1 diabetic, has kept himself off insulin for almost 3 years. On his blog, Type 1 No More, he chronicles his experiment in using diet, movement and meditation to become insulin INdependent.

This is his philosophy: "Before moving on, ponder this: when you break your arm, who fixes it? You might answer a doctor- but that is incorrect. A doctor sets it in a cast perhaps, but the only thing that makes the bone grow back are the right conditions, a safe environment inside the cast, and you. You-  your body literally repairs the damage and heals itself. I asked myself this same question, except I wondered if I could create the right conditions for a “healing of my blood sugars.” I thought about a broken arm- if I crated the right conditions, perhaps I could make something happen, and quit insulin forever.......Remembering the broken bone, we can set our bodies inside a cast of sorts and perhaps some healing will occur." 

What we admire most about Keith, aside from his discipline and perseverance, is his willingness to evolve and his belief in the body's intrinsic healing ability. Keith understands Health as a dynamic experience that can only be maintained through an honesty with ourselves about what is and isn't working at different stages of our lives, and daring to make a change. To top it all off, Keith is a brilliant jazz musician, NYU student, and Kundalini Yoga teacher. Oh, and he's just 23 years old!

Take a moment to connect with Keith and hear his music HERE .

BD&H- Tell us about you! your practice, work, and hobbies.

KC- My biggest challenge for the past 3 years has been figuring out how to care for my type 1 diabetes. Practicing Kundalini yoga has changed my life, and now after close to 3 years, I have not had to take any insulin to control blood sugars. It is a continual practice of noticing how I am reacting to certain food or making adjustments, to which kinds of meditations I need to do. It is always changing and I always have to pay attention to the numbers and seek out the help I need. I want another type 1 diabetic to experiment. I'm sure so many people could go off of the insulin. I know lots of type 1 diabetics form working at a summer camp for kids with type 1 diabetes, but I have not encountered anyone who says "wow, I want to try." They all say, " I could never do that." I would love to meet just one person who would want to try and to mentor them in any way that would be supportive.

BD&H- When did you start making and/or eating bone broth?

KC- I started making and eating bone broth 7 months ago.

BD&H- Have you noticed any significant changes to your health since then?

KC- Yes, absolutely. There are marked improvements in my blood sugar levels when I drink lots of bone broth. Additionally, I noticed that once I started drinking bone broth, my cravings for almost every food went away. One might still say that, yes I want a cookie, but do I have that visceral craving for one anymore? No, not since starting to drink the broth.

A regular day in terms of self care is an early morning chilly wake up shower followed by 5 minutes of Watermill* and 3 minutes of horse dance,* then a routine of push-ups and sit ups followed by pranayama** and meditation after which I burn moxa. Then there is breakfast and after 15 minutes of digesting, a 20 minute run outside.

* Keith is a practitioner of Qi Gong. Qi Gong, as defined by Wikipedia, is a practice of aligning body, breath, and mind for health, meditation, and martial arts training. With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as "life energy". Watermill and Horse dance are two Qi Gong exercises.

**Pranayama is an ancient yogic practice involving breath control. 

BD&H- In the yoga community, vegetarianism and more recently veganism is typically associated with a ¨yogic¨lifestyle. Do you think that your peers would refuse or embrace bone broth easily if they knew about its benefits? 

KC- I have talked to some people who say that they would sacrifice their health to remain vegetarian. They would rather be at less than optimal health than start to eat meat.

What I have to say is that any diet you go on, can be a part of your practice. I believed so strongly in being a vegetarian, and when I noticed my health was suffering, making the change to go on a "beef and leaf" diet for 6 months was not only challenging in its extremely limited scope of foods I could eat, but extremely challenging in letting go of beliefs I once held. It was an ultimate practice of detachment. It is the discipline that is the teacher. If I decided that I would not eat anything that started with the letter R for one year, I would inevitably learn an incredible amount about my own self-discipline, my attachments, my aversions, about dealing with desire and craving. Just by adopting a restriction you set yourself up to learn.

As it pertains to health, I would say to someone who has adapted vegetarianism and veganism to observe closely how they really feel. I would imagine that there are many who are well suited to a vegetarian lifestyle, and they should follow it, but there are far too many who are probably functioning on less than they could be.

However, being vegetarian for a while and then beginning to eat meat and drink bone broth raised my consciousness about the food I eat. It could in fact be a very enlightening practice to be vegetarian for a period of time with the intention of increasing awareness of the food we eat. Every morsel is a special gift, and remembering this when eating makes the gift of meat seem even more sacred. When I go to the grocery store or Chipotle and buy some beef and extra pieces fall on the counter and they throw them away, I tell them to stop and put it in my bowl. Could you imagine throwing away even a tiny piece of meat that is perfectly good for sustenance? Perhaps it accidentally falls and is covered in the grime of a NYC floor- thats one thing. But that is completely different from the deli clerk asking me if I was sure I wanted the two pieces of roast beef "that looked weird." When we approach what we eat as a pathway to health and well being, we can be more grateful for what it is we eat and what it took to bring it there. We can minimize the damage we do to the earth and to the animals that provide us with sustenance by remembering what it is we are doing and hoping to accomplish when we put something in our mouths.

BD&H- What is your health and well-being ethos (in a practical or philosophical sense)?

KC- Creating health and well-being takes a great amount of self awareness and great amount of interested detachment. This means that one must be constantly observant of what foods, actions and thoughts we take into our consciousness and the reaction we have to them. It means that one must be continually experimenting to find what creates optimal results without becoming too fixed to a way that used to work. For example, I was a "paleo-vegetarian" for a long time- I was eating non-starchy vegetables, lots of nuts and seeds, cheese and that's about it. I had good blood sugars and thought I was healthy. I also believed strongly in being vegetarian. But as time went on, the numbers I was getting for blood sugar were getting higher and higher. I was feeling more irritated, and weaker and weaker, losing lots of weight and finding it a drudgery to walk to the subway. For a little while I ignored the fact that what I was eating was in fact not creating optimal health. But soon, I had to remember that it was a willingness to experiment and to try different things and to pay attention to how I reacted that prompted me to accept that I may have to try something else. If I did not keep as the core of my ethos for health and well being an openness to experimentation and interested detachment from any one way of doing it, I may still be functioning at less than optimal levels.

BD&H- What other foods /beverages do you consume regularly for health?

KC- I eat grass fed beef and lots of leafy greens for health. I also take a vitamin butter/ fermented cod liver oil supplement.

Conversations: Heidi Lovie, NYC Acupuncturist

Heidi practices acupuncture and Asian medicine. People often think of acupuncture as a mere solution to headaches and back pain, but Heidi's practice reflects the true scope of possibilites that eastern medicine has to offer. Heidi specializes in treating Autoimmune disorders, with a focus on Hashimoto's. She also works with HIV/AIDs, cancer, pregnancy & post-partum maternal care, pain management, and "last resort" cases where everything else has been tried.

Her patients often come to Bone Deep & Harmony for broth to supplement their treatment, and each one of them sings her praises. We had the pleasure of chatting with Heidi and you can see through our interview, with her unique blend of grace and wisdom, alongside a fabulous candor and passion for the beauty and practicality of daoist medicine, it’s no wonder Heidi has such a successful healing practice!

BD&H- Tell us about you! Your practice, work, hobbies...

HL- I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, educator, yogi, writer, and healer. I've been blessed enough to find a calling in something I truly love- Asian medicine. I've dedicated my life to exploring and sharing the teaching of our ancstors in medicine to see how we can apply them to the current age.

BD&H- When did you start making and/or eating broth?

HL- I discovered bone broth when I first started Chinese medicine school about 10 years ago. Diet is a cornerstone in the medicine and without proper food, proper healing often can’t happen. I bought a slow cooker when I was a student and still consider it one of the best investments in my own health that I’ve ever made!

BD&H- Have you noticed any significant changes to your health since then?

HL- One of the things that brought me into Chinese medicine was the desire to learn how to manage my own autoimmune dis-ease. One of the pillars in the treatment of autoimmune is ensuring that the body’s belly is fully functioning; when my belly is off – I’m off. More so than most people. When I’m able to regularly consume bone broth, my anti-bodies decrease, my gut permeability decreases and I’m actually able to get nutrients out of my food. It’s something I rely on to help manage my body’s response system.

BD&H- What is a regular day for you in your self-care routine?

HL- I’m not a morning person by nature, but I make a point of waking up around 5:30am during the week so that I can enjoy the quiet solitude of the morning to meditate, do some yoga and nourish myself with a proper breakfast. My morning routine has been a game changer as to how I effectively I’m able to move through my day. Because I both teach and have a private Asian medicine practice, once I leave the house I don't stop moving until I come home around 9:30pm at night. I’m very careful not to commit to anything on Sundays though. That’s my day to charge up for the coming week and make my broth.

BD&H- What other foods / beverages do you consume regularly for health?

HL- I’m a HUGE advocate of using the pantry as a medicine cabinet and eating seasonally - I use spices in everything I cook. I’m a big fan of saffron, turmeric, peppercorn, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, coriander, and pink Himalayan salt to name a few. I love Ayurvedic and Perisan home cooking – two traditions that are incredibly delicious and highly anti-inflammatory. So I regularly eat spiced stews or seasonal veggies and rice dishes. My other passion besides Chinese medicine is tea – so be it oolong, pu’erh, matcha, sencha or even earl grey, tea is also a daily staple! I’m currently partnered on a project looking at how tea can be incorporated with herbal medicine since oral history has taught us that it was one of our first herbs.

BD&H- What is your health and well-being ethos (in a practical or philosophical sense)?

HL- There is a deep interconnectedness between all beings on this planet; which means that my own health is intertwined with the health of my friends, family, community, and planet. By taking responsibility and control of our own health, we each have a reverberating impact that extends far beyond the narrow scope of the individual. Therefore, individual health and well-being are not a luxury, but a necessity and responsibility. The healthier and stronger I am, the healthier and stronger those around me can become.There’s also a difference between “health” and “healing”, but we often use the words interchangeably. Health is about whether the mind and/or body are free of dis-ease. Sometimes we come into the world with dis-ease or things happen that are completely out of our control – no matter how dedicated we are to our own well being. Healing is about coming to a place of comfort, regardless of the dis-ease, or even lack thereof. People who are “healthy” often need just as much healing as those who aren’t. Healing is about finding grace and peace, regardless of the situation.

Heal yourself and you heal the world.

BD&H- As a Chinese medicine practitioner, what do you most often prescribe or suggest bone broth to your patients for? Have you seen marked improvements in health, pulse, etc. for patients who have integrated broth into their diets?

HL- In my private practice, I predominantly treat auto-immune (AI) and women’s health. Which means I’m really treating inflammation and “blood deficiency” as defined by Chinese medicine.

The CDC recognizes over 80 different types of auto-immune diseases; however, regardless of the type, the common denominator is inflammation. There are many reasons for this, but from a clinical standpoint many people with AI are unable to absorb all the nutrients they need from their food because their gut is inflamed. So they tend to be deficient in vitamins and minerals needed for the body to be healthy. What few minerals are able to be absorbed are used to fight inflammation rather than daily function – so it’s a double whammy and the body winds up running on empty.

One could take vitamin supplements that definitely help when they’re good quality, but they don’t necessarily repair the gut. What’s the use in taking expensive supplements if you’re not absorbing them? Bone broth contains TONS of vitamins and minerals in a form that the body recognizes, are able to be quickly digested AND repairs the gut. It’s a win-win. Depending on how depleted a patient is, I may prescribe selenium and vitamin D – but the real healing happens with the broth.  

BD&H- In the yoga community, vegetarianism and more recently veganism is typically associated with a ¨yogic¨ lifesyle. Do you think that your peers would refuse to embrace bone broth easily if they knew about its benefits? Any thoughts on, or experiences with being vegetarian and beginning to eat meat again, or add broth into the vegetarian diet? 

Every person’s body is different. One of the things I find among my peers and patients is that they become vegetarian or vegan with the best of intentions, but they do it too quickly or incorrectly and get sick. If you’ve been a meat eater your entire life, for most people the journey to veganism should take a minimum of 5 years – if not more.

You start by slowing down consumption of red meat as you increase consumption of legumes while you tritate off red meat over a period of about a year. You then do that with chicken, fish and eventually animal products. Your body needs time to adjust and adapt. Without that, there’s an internal freak out that happens and you wind up prone to all kinds of illness from an increase in the number of colds and flu you catch, to slower healing time for muscles and tendons, to fatigue and foggy thinking. Especially if you’re not combining your foods correctly – there’s a real art to veganism and many people jump in without truly knowing the basics.

I work with plenty of vegans and vegetarians who drink when needed bone broth because for them it’s medicine. If they’ve been suffering for 6 weeks with a cold they can’t shake regardless of supplements, rest or herbs, sometimes 3 days of bone broth is all it takes to get them healthy. Same with external injuries - something very common in yoga. There can be extraordinarily long heal time if the body doesn’t have the building blocks to repair itself, but once it has the basic components needed for healing – the recovery can be amazing.

Before the advent of readily available yoga mats, Yogi Bhajan instructed his students to practice on sheepskin for padding. He taught that it positively affected the bio-magnetic field and that it was readily available since the skin was the left overs of what was being consumed by meat eaters. Any solstice gathering or white tantric event is always chocked FULL vegan students using sheepskin. The bones made for broth are the leftovers as well, so I don’t see it as counter to the teachings of a yogic practice. Especially if you’re using the bones of animals that were raised well, are organic, anti-biotic free, and grass fed. Bonus points if you get them from the farmer’s market and know the farmer.

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Conversations: Emily & Ana Venizelos, the Acrobats.

I met the Venizelos sisters years ago. We reconnected, coincidentally, when Anna showed up at Bone Deep & Harmony to buy broth for her and for Emily. I was not surprised. I knew these girls have always been very knowledgeable about food and fitness, so I jumped at the opportunity to feature them on our blog. I initially met Emily at a yoga class, and later took private aerial hoop classes with her at a church on the Upper West Side, where she and Anna would set up their equipment to train and teach amateurs like myself. I admired Emily right away. Emily is of a very gentle and sweet nature. She looks like Snow White, with thick black hair, creamy flawless skin, and rosy cheeks. During our sessions, I would stare at Anna, training at the other end of the church - her petite frame performing with incredible strength, focus, and precision. I remember wondering what kinds of things they did and ate to maintain their healthy glow, while also sustaining their careers as circus performers. I am very excited to have had the opportunity to finally ask!



Emily has a background in modern dance, and has trained in aerial and contortion skills at the San Francisco Circus Center. She and Anna have created a company, along with acrobat friend Sara Joel, and currently perform at various events, modern dance shows, and for film & TV.  They also teach contortion to professional students at Circus Warehouse.

Emily is also now a very busy mother of 2 boys, ages 1 and 3, so with limited time available she was not able to sit down with us to discuss food and wellness. Through an e-mail exchange, she shared that she´s happy that her boys love bone broth, and she shared this about herself:

¨When I first started circus training I tried to follow a specific diet, but over time I gave that up, and now I generally eat according to what I like and what I think is healthy.  I don't take any supplements, but I love coconut oil and turmeric.  Both seem to help with reduction of inflammation and increase flexibility. Bone broth seems to have a somewhat laxative effect with me, which I love, and I usually drink it with extra sea salt and garlic. For fitness, I really only have time to maintain my contortion training as a means of well being at this point.¨ 

Anna has a background in gymnastics, dance, and yoga. Her love of contortion, aerials, and acrobatics, led her to tour with Cirque du Soleil´s production of Quidam for four years, as well as performing with circus companies based in Montreal.   As a disciplined performer, she is constantly reading, listnening to podcasts, and self-experimenting with food and self-care routnes. Here, she gives us a glimpse into her latest rituals:

BD&H- You both have been training as acrobats for many years, were you always very careful and strategic about following a specific diet to optimize performance? How has that changed throughout the years?

ANNA- I have always cared immensely about diet and nutrition since a very young age. At first, as a means of weight control during my childhood years as a gymnast and dancer and then I began to learn more about the health aspects in my teens and early twenties. I am now 36 and have suffered from long term digestive problems that are sometimes severe and in the past have been debilitating. I am able to keep things somewhat under control by following what I know works for me after much trial and error. 

BD&H-What type of diet do you follow now?

ANNA- I follow a strict version of paleo, which is sometimes called "autoimmune paleo" on the lower side of the carb spectrum. I eat tons of vegetables (very few starchy), sea vegetables, all proteins (minus eggs & dairy) and fats from animals, coconut oil, MCT oil, and some olive oil. 

*In case you´re wondering MCT oil - Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are fats that are naturally found in coconut and palm kernel oil. MCTs are metabolized very quickly in the liver and are reported to encourage an increase in energy expenditure, while decreasing fat storage.

BD&H-Do you take any supplements? Are there any products that you swear by (i.e. skin products, superfoods, oils, etc).

ANNA- I take quite a few supplements! A multi, rhodiola, D3, berberine, glutamine, a lactobacillus based & a soil based probiotic and digestive enzymes (sometimes). I love my micro algae- chlorella and spirulina- which I take with me in a shake everyday that also includes collagen powder. Great Lakes makes both a wonderful collagen and gelatin powder that I use daily. I'm also a fan of cricket protein! I find it very tasty and easy to mix into stuff. I'll basically try anything that fits into my dietary guidelines once! I'm not really grossed out by much. I use coconut oil to cleanse my skin and remove makeup and it also doubles as my moisturizer. I am also experimenting with essential oils, adding some lemon and peppermint to my water. 


BD&H-Do you notice any specific foods that enhance your performance? What are some that you can immediately notice to harm your performance

ANNA- I have been making bone broth myself for about 2 years. I LOVE it! I was so excited when I discovered Bone Deep & Harmony because I don't always have time to make my own and I go through a lot of it! I have found it to be incredibly helpful for joint aches and stiffness and of course for helping to seal and repair inflammation in the gut. I also notice an overall sense of vigor and energy from eating organ meats. My favorites are beef heart and chicken liver. I eat one or the other- or sometimes both, daily. 

BD&H-What forms of exercise/ sports/ meditation do you practice for maintenance?

ANNA- My training as a contortionist and acrobat is pretty much my exercise regimen. I also do 2 days a week in the gym of cross training intervals and some light physical therapy and Pilates to maintain joint integrity. I don't have a meditation practice. I do love to cook when I have the time and I find that very relaxing. 

BD&H-What is your health and well-being ethos (in a practical or philosophical sense) ?

ANNA- I like to reach my maximum effort each day. That's not to say that every day is my most productive but I strive for the best I can with what's available to me that particular day. Relaxation isn't satisfying if I haven't put in the work. I do treat myself to massage and caviar kind of often!


BD&H-What are your ideas and what is your experience with bone broth? And what is your favorite way of eating it?

ANNA- Bone broth is a real superfood. As I stated above, I have really experienced it's healing properties and when I don't have it I can feel a marked difference in my joints and digestion. I love the taste of it plain. I don't even heat it sometimes. I also use it to cook my vegetables as it adds a really nice flavor that you can't achieve with just water and seasonings. 

You may find out more about Anna here. 

Conversations on Health, Diet, and Self-Care Routines

In this series, we record our conversations with a number of interesting individuals who we have met throughout our lives. These people share one thing in common, they have achieved a level of health through food and wellness practices that have enabled them to either:

  • Heal from a previous condition
  • Achieve a unique level of physical ability
  • Become experts in these fields, helping others to improve their own health and well-being

We hope you enjoy reading these conversations, as much as we enoyed having them!


This is a version of the flavorful traditional Vietnamese soup called 'Pho' (pronounced "fuh"). We like to have it as much in the summer as in cooler weather. In the summer we garnish it with plenty of herbs for a refreshing meal, and we enjoy it especially on a rainy, muggy day. Add any vegetables and condiments that you fancy and make it your own!

*Recipe adapted from "The Heart of the Artichoke" by David Tanis

Serves 4-6

2 quarts Bone Deep & Harmony broth
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon of fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon whole cloves
6 cardamom pods
2 tablespoons of nama shoyu soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 teaspoons of coconut sugar
Salt and pepper

1 pound of dried rice noodles (we used zucchini spirals using a spiralizer)
½ pound fresh bean sprouts
1 sweet red onion thinly sliced
Thinly sliced raw beef (optional)

Mint, cilantro, basil sprigs
Scallions, slivered
2 spicy chiles slivered (such as Serrano) 
Lime wedges

Bring the broth to a boil and turn down the heat to a simmer. Add star anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, and cardamom. Add shoyu sauce or tamari sauce, fish sauce, coconut sugar, and salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.

The next morning, drain and rinse again. Strain the broth, and serve immediately or refrigerate the broth and heat to piping hot when ready to use.

When ready to serve the pho, put the rice noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for about 15 minutes to soften, then drain. For each bowl of soup, put a handful of noodles, some bean and onion slices. Ladle the broth and thinly sliced raw beef (it will cook in the hot broth). Serve with a large platter of the garnishes to pass for everyone to add to their liking.


When you belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) you get the freshest seasonal produce, but you may not be able to choose what and how much of a certain vegetable you will get. In August, this means that you end up with ears and ears of corn. Here is a delicious way to use some of that corn, alongside poblano peppers that are also common around this time of the year. This combination, paired with bone broth, smells of Mexico!

About 6 Servings

1 onion onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of thyme
2 poblano peppers (substitute with bell peppers if you prefer a non-spicy soup)
4 ears of corn, kernels removed from the cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
6 cups of BD&H bone broth
1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Over an open flame on your stove or under the broiler, roast the peppers, turning constantly with thongs, until they turn black all around. Place them in a bowl, cover them, and set them aside.

In a large heavy-bottom pot, saute the onions with the oregano and thyme with the coconut or olive oil. When the onions are very soft, after about 10 minutes, add the corn kernels and sauté for another 5-10 minutes. Add the bone broth and the reserved cobs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors.

In the meantime, rub off the burnt skin of the peppers (it's easy if you use a paper towel). Discard the seeds and the core of the peppers and chop. Remove the soup from the heat, discard the cobs, and cool the soup a little. Blend most of the soup until creamy, reserving some kernels to add back to the blended soup for crunch. Add the reserved kernels to the soup, along with the chopped roasted peppers, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


This simple recipe for one of our favorite breakfasts is a nourishing, soothing, and energizing way to fuel your day and support healing. Our household loves asian flavors, but you can let the broth/rice/egg stand as a blueprint and play around with whats in season and what speaks to your palate to round out the meal.

1 serving

12 oz Bone Deep & Harmony broth
1 egg
½ cup of sticky rice

Hot sesame oil
Chopped scallions
Sea salt (my favorite is Maldon flakes)
Fresh ground pepper

Heat broth just to a boil, remove from heat and immediately drop egg into the broth. Stir to separate white from yolk allowing whites to cook until you see no more clear albumen. The yolk will easily stay in tact, if you like. Or, you may break the yolk and stir it in. Add cooked rice and 1 tsp of sesame oil, spoonful of kimchee, 1 tbsp of chopped scallions, salt and pepper as desired. Wait just a minute or two to enjoy allowing the soup to cool to your perfect temperature and flavors to merge.


This velvety green soup makes a comforting weekday meal - a nice way of getting a healthy dose of greens in the midst of winter, when a cold juice or salad may not generate necessary inner warmth to cope with outer low temperatures.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil
1 large leek or 1 onion, chopped
1 potato, diced
1 celery stem
¼ cup of fennel (bulb), chopped (optional)
4 thyme sprigs, picked
1 rosemary sprig, picked
½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground
1 quart beef bone broth
1 bunch of spinach, washed
1 small handful of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 slices of bacon, fried until crispy and chopped (optional)

In a large heavy bottom pot, warm the oil and add the leeks or onions. When the they begin to soften, add the potato, celery, carrot, fennel, thyme, rosemary, and ground fennel seeds. Mix well. When the vegetables begin to soften releasing moisture, add the beef broth. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer, half cover the pot, and leave the pot to cook allowing the flavors to develop slowly. After about 30-45 minutes, throw in the spinach and parsley, and when it wilts, turn off the heat. Cool a little and blend using a hand held mixer or transfer to a blender in batches. Return to the pot, season to taste, and warm again before serving. Garnish with bacon bits. Also great served with a dolup of creme fraiche, sour cream, or thick and tart yogurt.


While the elusive snowmageddon didn't turn out as forecasted, the regular old snowstorm that took its place left the city looking pretty in white. I enjoyed waking up to a bright snowy day, and it occurred to me that it was the perfect backdrop for " Borscht, " the traditional Russian beet soup. My rendition is spiced up with cumin, ginger, and bay leaves. I also added apple, carrots, and red bell pepper. The liquid base is, of course, our very own BD&H bone broth. I served the soup with a sprinkling of fresh dill, micro greens, and a dollop of sheep's milk yogurt. It's a simple soup, but its crimson velvety look and feel sure have enough character to make it stand alone as a main dish; paired with a piece of crusty sourdough bread (if you're not afraid of gluten!), it's the perfect snowy weather meal!

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon of butter (preferably grass-fed and cultured, raw if possible!)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large beets, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 apple, cored and diced
1 thumb-size piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, lightly toasted
1 bay leaf
6 cups of BD&H bone broth
Salt (Celtic sea salt or Himalayan Crystal salt, preferably) & Pepper

Fresh sprigs of dill
Sheep's or goat's milk yogurt
Micro greens or any green sprouts


In a heavy-bottom large pot, warm the oil and butter. Add the onion and allow it to soften a little. Add the rest of the vegetables, the ginger, cumin seeds, and bay leaf, and a couple of spoonfuls of the broth. Mix all the vegetables and aromatics thoroughly. Half-cover the pot, and allow the vegetables to soften. After about 10 minutes, add the broth to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Once the soup is cool enough to handle, blend most of the vegetables with some of the cooking liquid - use an immersion blender, a food processor, or a regular blender. Return the blended soup to the pot with the vegetables left behind. Mix well and turn the heat back on. Once the soup is warm, serve and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, and a sprinkling of dill and micro greens or green sprouts.


I think I can speak for most of us living in places with cold winters when I say that once March rolls around, winter has gotten the best of us. Im ready not only for sunshine and warm weather, but for shedding layers in both a literal and metaphorical sense. After months of wearing heavy clothes, I find myself with heavy thoughts and feelings as well. It's nice to relish the introspective mood that winter brings, but inevitably I begin to feel a little disconnected, tired, and unmotivated. In spite of spending most hours indoors, I lack the enthusiasm and energy to cook meals that are complex and time consuming. Instead, I favor simple meals like this soup. The trick is that I prepare a huge batch of bone broth once a month, so that I can pull it out of my fridge or freezer, throw in whatever ingredients I have around, play with the seasoning, and have dinner ready in 30 minutes. You can take "shortcuts," like I did, using store-bought sprouted quinoa (I usually soak and sprout my grains to enhance nutrient absorption), and add ready-made bone broth from Bone Deep & Harmony ;)

Serves 4-6

½ tablespoon of coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 dried chipotle chile
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots or sweet potatoes, or any winter squash, diced
1 cup of red or green cabbage, chopped
2 quarts of bone broth
½ cup of quinoa (preferably sprouted)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauerkraut or any pickled vegetable
Parsley or cilantro

In a heavy bottom pot, sautee the onion with the chipotle and cumin seeds until the onions begin to soften. Add the celery, carrots (or sweet potatoes, or winter squash), and stir to mix all the ingredients thoroughly. When the carrots soften a little (3-5 minutes) add the cabbage and quinoa, and mix well one more time. Add the bone broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, half-cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is fully cooked.* Season to taste.

Garnish with sauerkraut and chopped parsley or cilantro, and/or a squeeze of lime.


It was cold just a few weeks ago when we headed down to Mexico to host a yoga retreat and to finish the writing for our upcoming cookbook (!). When we returned, summer weather had arrived in New York City, but all other signs indicated of spring: cherry blossoms in full bloom, farmers markets vibrant with all kinds of greens, tulips, and lilacs, big smiles everywhere around town– it's a great time in the city! Tender broccoli rabe and chervil are two spring highlights for me. To my dismay, my boys are not fans. I got sneaky this year, and made a creamy soup, blending broccoli rabe with fresh peas, beef bone broth, turmeric root, ginger, spring garlic, parsley, and cilantro. I added a splash of whole milk for the little one and served it with fresh chervil, toasted sesame seeds, and a little raw milk blue cheese. Everyone asked for seconds, little Pablo even had it for breakfast this morning. A success, I'd say.

Serves 4

½ tablespoon of coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk and the bulb of spring (green) garlic, sliced (or 3 cloves of regular garlic, chopped)
1 inch size of turmeric root, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 inch size of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 quart of beef bone broth
1 bunch of broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
¾ cup of fresh or frozen peas
1 small handful of cilantro
1 small handful of parsley
3 sprigs of chervil (substitute with mint if you can't find chervil)
The juice of ½ lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole milk (optional)

Raw milk blue cheese
Toasted sunflower seeds, preferably pre-soaked and/or sprouted
Chervil, picked

Warm the oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, and ginger. When the onion softens, about 5 minutes, add the bone broth and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe and peas. Reduce the heat immediately and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the broccoli softens. Turn off the heat, and allow the soup to cool a bit before blending.

If using an immersion blender, add the fresh cilantro, parsley, and chervil sprigs to the pot and blend. Alternatively, transfer the soup to a blender with the fresh herbs. Blend and return to the pot. Add the juice of half a lime, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a splash of whole milk, if using. Top with a little blue cheese, toasted sesame seeds, and a little more chervil.


On the first day of 2015, my family enjoyed an adapted version of a Yellow Thai Curry – Gaeng Gari – recipe from Su-Mei Yu´s cookbook ¨The Elements of Life¨. It was a cold day, and the spicy broth laced with coconut cream was a warming and winning way to celebrate the New Year. This recipe is a little more complex than my usual cooking, but the occasion called for it. The end result was well worth the time spent roasting and pounding the spices that compose the curry paste.  I used my Mexican molcajete to form the paste; it was perfect for this with the black stone adding a unique depth of flavor, but any mortar and pestle will do.  I substituted some of the coconut milk with our very own BD&H beef bone broth, and simmered assorted vegetables and thinly sliced flank steak in the curried coconut broth. We had steamed sprouted rice along with the curry, and I smiled big seeing my toddler savor every single bite despite how spicy/hot our dinner was!


Yellow Curry Chile Paste
1 teaspoon salt
8 cloves of garlic, roasted in a 375° F oven until soft (10-12 minutes), then peeled
10 dried thai bird eye chiles, or chile de arbol, dry-roasted in a skillet over high heat until blackened and charred (5-7 minutes), then minced
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, dry-roasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, dry-roasted and ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
One 1-inch chunk of ginger, roasted in a 375 F oen for 15 minutes, then peeled and minced
4 shallots, roasted in a 375° F oven for 15 minues, then peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon red miso

Curry Broth
1 cup of Coconut cream (I used¨Let´s Do Organic¨ creamed coconut)
1 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of beef bone broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce as an alternative
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1 stalk of lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, tender inner stalk cut lengthwise and slightly pounded
6-7 kaffir lime leaves, slightly crushed (I found Whole Foods brand dry lime leaves), or the zest of 1 lime cut into slivers

Main ingredients
2 cups bite-size pieces firm fish fillets such as sea bas, or snapper, or beef, pork , or chicken
2 cups of mixed vegetables, chopped into bite-size pieces

Cilantro leaes, roughly chopped

Pound the salt and garlic together in a mortar until they form a paste. Add the remaining chile paste ingredients one at a time, adding the next only after the previous one has been incorporated into the paste. The paste will keep in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to a month.

Combine the coconut cream and chile paste (I didn´t add all of the paste,  and left about 2 tablespoons of it behind to use on a different occasion). Heat in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the oil separates out and the oil bubbles take on the color of the chile paste, stirring frequently.  Add the coconut cream and milk combined and stir to mix. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the salt, fish sauce, coconut sugar, lemongrass,  and lime leaves.  When it boils again, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes (if making the curry broth ahead, let cool completely at this point and refrigerate. It will keep overnight. Bring to a boil before adding the meat and vegetables).

Add the main ingredients to the simmering broth. Once they are cooked, serve immediately. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.



The richness of duck meat is counterbalanced by the tanginess of the balsamic and pomegranate in this recipe. This is a very easy to make recipe, but it sounds and looks fancy. It would make a nice dinner party main dish. If you are able to find fresh pomegranates, reserve some of the seeds to garnish the final dish.

Serves 4

2 duck breasts
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
The juice of 2 pomegranates or 1 cup of store-bought pomegranate juice
2/3 cup of beef bone broth
1 tablespoon of butter
Salt and pepper

Score the skin side of the duck breasts making diagonal cuts in opposite directions to form diamond shapes. Rub salt and pepper all around.

Using a medium sized pan that is oven proof (preferably cast iron), sear the duck skin side down until golden, about 3-5 minutes.  Flip the duck sear for 5 minutes more for medium-rare, or 8 minutes for medium.  Transfer the duck to a cutting board. Let it rest for a few minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Discard the fat from the pan, and over medium high heat, deglaze the pan with the balsamic. Reduce by half.  Add the pomegranate juice, and reduce by half again. Add the bone broth, bring to a boil, turn the heat down, and reduce by half one more time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Swirl the butter in, and remove from the heat immediately. Leave the sauce undisturbed for a few minutes. It will thicken and acquire a syrup consistency.

Slice the duck, and serve drizzled with the sauce, and sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds.