Last week my little one was sick. There are many stomach viruses going around, and I guess she finally picked one up. She started throwing up at about 2am one night, and although the total vomiting lasted less than 24 hours, her tummy wasn’t quite right for a few days. She was also on and off lethargic. In case you’re in the same boat, here are our go-to foods for upset tummies: Homemade Chicken Soup and Homemade Jello (with an upgrade option!). They are easy to get down, easy to digest and healing to the gut. Oh, and yummy!
Why Chicken Soup?
As I’ve mentioned before, bone broth/ stock itself is incredibly healing. There is an old African proverb that says “Good broth can raise the dead.” Among its many benefits is the fact that it contains gelatin, which is a hydrophilic colloidal. This means that it disperses throughout the broth and attracts liquids (in this case, digestive juices). This aids in digestion and helps soothe irritated gut lining, while also preventing gastrointestinal pathogens from attaching themselves to it. Nutritionally, it supports and boosts the immune system, and also allows the body to better utilize proteins (called protein sparing), of which sickies are not often tempted to eat much.
Ideally you would have some homemade broth stocked up in the freezer. (Here’s an article detailing a stove-top method for making good stock, and here’s the easy crock-pot method I’ve been using lately, which also provides for shredded chicken you can keep in the freezer. And if you have those two things, you might want to just make my quick and dirty chicken soup at the bottom of that post.)
But even if you don’t have stock already made, you can still make a nutritious soup as long as you have chicken with bones. I keep these quality drumsticks on hand in the freezer for last minute meals like this. I pop them right in, frozen.
If your little one’s stomach is so sensitive that even this gentle soup doesn’t seem appetizing, you can strain out some of this quick-broth and let them sip it out of a mug.
Easy Homemade Chicken Soup
*2-3 stalks organic celery, diced (Include the leaves if you have them.)
*4-5 organic carrots, washed and chopped (Leave these in larger pieces since the soup will simmer a while and you don’t want them to get too mushy. No need to peel.)
*1/2 organic onion, chopped (You can add more to taste. My Little doesn’t care for onion.)
*3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
*1 bay leaf
*2 T butter, ghee or other healthy fat
*1.5 lbs. quality drum-sticks (or other chicken pieces on the bone)
*8-10 cups filtered water (or chicken stock, if you have it)
Melt butter or other fat in a large stockpot. Add the chopped veggies and briefly saute, until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add in the drumsticks. (I do this straight from the freezer, with just a quick rinse under warm water to help remove the packaging.) Cover with the water or stock. (Add in more if the ingredients are not covered.) Drop in the bay leaf and a generous amount of sea salt.
Bring to a soft boil, skim any foam that rises to the surface and immediately drop down to a gentle simmer. Simmer 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (Simmer longer if you have the time.)
Before serving, remove the drumsticks and the bay leaf with tongs. Using forks (or your hands if you allow the drumsticks to cool), remove the meat from the bones and return to the soup. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Benefits of Homemade Jello
Another food that is not just gentle on the tummy but also beneficial is homemade jello (again, due to its gelatin content).
Store-bought jello, despite being served in hospitals (don’t get me started on that again!), is not a good option here. Although it contains gelatin, it is low quality gelatin, not from grass-fed animals. And the real problem is what else it contains: dipic acid, disodium phosphate, maltodextrin (from corn), fumaric acid, artificial flavor (which could be any of a host of undesirable ingredients), aspartame, acesulfame potassium and all sorts of artificial colors depending on flavor, including the highly toxic Red #40. That doesn’t sound like a health food, does it?
Homemade jello, on the other hand, basically consists of liquid and gelatin. You can easily make it from diluted fruit juice or coconut water. I currently use Great Lakes brand gelatin (beef only), but will be switching to Bernard Jensen when I run out; both are from pastured animals. I prefer to make jello that is fairly firm (think Jello Jigglers). If you don’t like it quite so firm, feel free to decrease the amount of gelatin a bit.
Here are two of my favorite options.
Homemade Lemon Lime Jello
*5 oz. lemon or lime juice (3-ish lemons OR 5-ish limes), or a mix
*2 cups cold filtered water, divided
*3 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
*5-6 Tbsp. honey (You can substitute all or a portion of this with stevia.)
Place the lemon juice and 1 cup of the cold water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and allow to sit for a minutes.
Add the honey and/or stevia (if using all stevia, you may want to add a couple of tablespoons extra filtered water) and turn on the heat. Whisk while gently heating just until all the sweetener and gelatin are fully incorporated.
Remove from heat, and whisk in remaining 1 cup water. When fully combined, pour into desired glass container (I use a 4×8 dish, about 2 inches deep), cover and refrigerate until set (at least 3 hours).
That jello is a bit tart, although you can certainly increase the honey to your preference. If tart isn’t your child’s thang, try this one:
Homemade Fruit Jello
*2/3 cup cold filtered water, plus 2 Tbsp. (Omit 2 Tbsp. if using honey.)
*2 cups organic fruit juice or coconut water, divided (Choose pure juice without additional sweetener. See note below.)
*3 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
*Raw honey and/or stevia, to taste, if desired (With most fruit juices, this isn’t necessary.)
*Fruit pieces or slices, if desired (1-2 cups)
Pour the water (including the 2 Tbsp. if not using honey) and 1 cup of the fruit juice or coconut water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and allow to sit for a minutes.
Add the honey and/or stevia, if using, and turn on the heat. Whisk while gently heating just until all of the gelatin (and sweetener, if using) is fully incorporated.
Remove from heat, and whisk in remaining 1 cup fruit juice or coconut water. When fully combined, pour into desired glass container (I use a 4×8 dish, about 2 inches deep). Add fruit pieces or slices (see note below), if using, then cover and refrigerate until set (at least 3 hours).
Most fruit juices work great. Consider trying some juices you may not normally drink, such as apricot nectar. Blending juices also makes for some delicious combinations. Some stronger juices, like grape, can be watered down even further than in the recipe, particularly if your kids are not used to juice or sweets.
Raw pineapple juice has an enzyme that won’t allow the gelatin to set up, but if it is cooked (such as in canned pineapple) it is fine to use.
If using coconut water, you can choose plain or one with fruit juice added.
I have found that despite how pretty it looks, most little ones don’t care for fruit pieces in their jello. Further, hurting tummies might not need that fiber and extra sugar.
Upgrade Your Homemade Jello
A super upgrade to homemade jello would be to make it with kombucha. Kombucha jello is even more beneficial for upset tummies because it introduces healthy bacteria to the digestive tract. (If your child is brand new to fermented foods or probiotics, start with just a little bit to see how their stomach responds. There can be a die-off reaction which would not be fun coupled with an already upset stomach.)
The sweetness of kombucha can vary greatly, so adjust the amount of honey accordingly, and to your taste. I think it’s best to start with just a tiny bit of sweetness. Sometimes just the fact that it’s “jello” can cause little minds to just assume it is very sweet, and they may not miss the sugar at all!
I have yet to get started brewing my own kombucha, and so I use unflavored kombucha from my farmer which is fermented for nine days. You could easily use store-bought kombucha, flavored or not. Again, adjust the honey accordingly.
*3/4 cup organic apple juice or cider
*1-1/2 cups kombucha, divided
*3 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
Pour 1 cup of the kombucha and the cold water OR the apple juice/cider and 3/4 cup of the kombucha into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and allow to sit for a minutes.
Add the honey, if using, and turn on the heat. Whisk while gently warming just until all of the gelatin (and honey, if using) is fully incorporated.
Remove from heat, and whisk in remaining kombucha. (It will probably foam up.) When fully combined, pour into desired glass container (I use a 4×8 dish, about 2 inches deep). Chill until set (at least 3 hours).
I haven’t tried it yet, but here’s an idea to make homemade jello from flavored water kefir. Water kefir is another probiotic drink that is easy to make at home!
Kombucha starters and water kefir grains are available at my affiliate, Cultures for Health. Click the ad below to visit their site!
What are your go-to foods for upset bellies?
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