Bone broth is a wonderful way to nourish and heal your digestive tract and energize your body; it provides an easily digestible source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. If you’re vegetarian, you can leave out the bones and meat scraps and create a healing vegetable elixir to sip during the day.

You can also include just bones and no vegetables, if you like. This broth can be used to sip, or used in recipes for more flavorful grains, soups, and more!

Note: gather your ingredients at your own pace

Take a large paper shopping bag; open and place it in one of the freezer drawers.

Over the course of the week or several weeks, throw all bones and meat scraps in the bag in your freezer drawer. Also add vegetable scraps, vegetable peelings, and the odds and ends that you chop off of vegetables. Some examples are: onion peels, the peeled skins of carrots, garlic skins, salad scraps, artichoke tips, the tough ends of asparagus, kale stems, and pea pods.

Add 1 or 2 (3") pieces of seaweed, like wakame or digitata, for extra minerals.

If you don’t have enough meat and bones to get started with your broth, you can go to the health-food store and purchase the necks, feet, backs, and wings of a chicken (these are inexpensive parts of the chicken that have a tremendous amount of nutritional value). Other options are lamb neck, marrow bones, or beef bones. Add these to your bag until you’re ready to make the broth.

Keep adding vegetable scraps, meat scraps, and bones to your bag in the freezer until it’s full and you’re ready to make your broth.

Vegetarian option: If you’re a vegetarian, eliminate the meat and bones and use only vegetable scraps. If you’re just starting and don’t have any vegetable scraps yet, here’s a fast way to get nutrient-rich veggie broth: start by making a seaweed broth; once cooked, set aside the seaweed to eat in other meals, like soups, grains, or salads (just chop it up). If you do this, you just need 1–3 (6") strips of kombu, wakame, nori, or kelp to 4 cups of water.

Put all of the contents of the bag in your freezer into a stainless-steel stockpot. Alternatively, you can use your Crock-Pot to make this even easier!

Pour water so that it just covers the top of your bones, meat, and vegetables. Add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, to bring out the minerals from the bones.

Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Start with a small amount in the beginning (about 1 tsp. each) and add more if needed when the broth is finished and you can taste it.

Turn your heat onto high, put a lid on the pot, and bring the water to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat down to very low and allow the pot to simmer all night long. The longer it cooks, the more nutrients you’ll bring out of the bones and vegetable scraps.

The next morning, strain the liquid out of the rest of the ingredients. You don’t keep any of the meat scraps, vegetable scraps, or bones—your goal is to strain them out and keep the liquid, which is now full of incredible nutrition.

Put the broth into the refrigerator. When it chills, remove the fat layer that will accumulate on the top.

Now you have something to nourish your body. Drink one or two cups a day: Louise has a cup in the morning and a cup before bed. You can also use the broth to make delicious, flavorful soups and stews, or flavor and cook vegetables and grains. To do this, you will use the broth just as you’d use water when cooking.

To store for longer than 5 days: For any broth you’re not using within a 5-day period, store the liquid in quart-sized containers and put in your freezer to thaw when you’re ready to use them. You can also store the broth in smaller containers or even pour it into ice-cube trays to customize the amount you want to use in meals or recipes.

Start a new bag of bones and vegetable scraps in your freezer for your next batch of bone broth and repeat the steps. Your body will love you for continuing to nourish it in this manner!

From Loving Yourself to Great Health by Louise Hay, Ahlea Khadro and Heather Dane, Hay House 2014.